Dallara GP2/11: Bella Macchina


Back in 2017 we ran an interview with Formula 2 Technical Director Didier Perrin (who is a frequent guest on our show) where Diego Merino and Tony Hall asked The Man – or L’homme – a few questions regarding the then outgoing Dallara GP2/11 chassis.

Diego Merino: Didier, let’s talk current F2 car. It’s 2011 car (Dallara GP2/11), rated as probably one of fhe best racing chassis ever in the history of motorsport.

Didier Perrin: I hope it’s true! It’s still the same chassis and it’s still performing well, it’s at a very high standard safety level. Obviously, next year our car will make another step. Talking about the safety standards of the current generation of F2 cars, this is why we always try to match the latest Formula 1 safety standards, it’s because we never know if the car will last for three, six or nine years. We were able to carry over that chassis because at the time it was designed to the latest F1 standards, 2010 at that time. They were already very difficult to match and very strict. We always do that, so we can carry over the chassis; after nine years, the car is still at a proper safety level.

DM: Would you say safety was the strongest point of the outgoing chassis?

DP: Well, it’s one of the main three key elements/targets that we have in mind when designing the car: safety, cost, performance. When I say performance, be careful! It’s not the fastest car ever, performance for a one-make formula means not being as fast as possible, since they’re all driving the same car. Performance means a car that is not too ride height sensitive to allow the teams to make a difference with various types of setup, a car that can follow another one and enable our drivers to overtake. This is what performance means for a one-make series. Nothing to do with developing a car when you are competing with other designers, where performance means lap time in this case. For me, performance means on-track behaviour, being able to race, provide a useful tool to the drivers and a good show to the public.

Tony Hall: Returning to the safety aspect, there weren’t any nasty injuries…

DP: We never know what will happen. To be honest, safety-wise, we always strive to match the highest, the best F1 standards. Nothing is perfect, but it’s really an important criteria.

DM: What would you say was the weakness of the current F2 chassis after all these years?

DP: It’s difficult to accommodate tall drivers! Year after year, the drivers are taller and taller. Our 2011 chassis was designed for taller drivers than the 2005 car, but it’s not enough so the next year’s car will be designed for even taller competitors.

DM: I remember F1 drivers in the 1980s used to be tiny.

DP: It’s bizarre but now we have a lot of very tall drivers and they’re having some difficulty to fit into the monocoque.

I always thought about this particular vehicle as a work of Italian art, powered by that mighty French-Canadian (such a lovely mot!) Mecachrome V8 naturally-aspirated engine. What a glorious sound did it make!

The car was made to last for quite a few GP2 seasons, a lot more than originally intended, and at the end of its life cycle peacefully morphed into modern Formula 2 era with Charles Leclerc being the last driver to win the title in the GP2/11. And we totally witnessed it in Jerez via Sergio. Good times. Neat.

This particular photo gallery is from early 2013 when I was sent by this obscure American magazine – rather coincidentally – to Jerez is order to ask Jake Rosenzweig a couple of questions. You might’ve heard of him.

I got crazy under the hot Andalusian sun and took like a million photos. The cars just looked and felt perfect to me, like a symphony. Yeah.

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