While everyone, even those without an interest in car racing, will have heard of Formula 1 racing before, you may be wondering what is Formula 2 and how is it different from its well-known counterpart.
Formula 2 serves as the final proving ground for rising talents aiming to reach the pinnacle of motorsport in Formula 1. Often called the “road to F1”, the junior category visits classic Grand Prix venues as a support series. Its multi-race weekends test young drivers in equal spec cars built for wheel-to-wheel action.
While lesser known than F1, Formula 2’s importance cannot be overstated. Its champions routinely graduate to compete with the world’s best drivers. Legends like Mika Häkkinen and Lewis Hamilton honed their craft en route to F1 titles. Today, stars of the grid including Charles Leclerc and George Russell also emerged from Formula 2 racing.
This feeder series breeds the next generation of Grand Prix winners. However, excelling in F2’s high-pressure environment is no easy task. Let’s examine what makes Formula 2 the ultimate test for F1 aspirants.
Formula 2 is a great way for drivers to gain experience in their careers, with racing teams often developing their young talent at this level ahead of the elevation to Formula 1. It is the second tier of single-seater motor racing.
In this blog, we will look at what exactly Formula 2 racing is, the history behind it, the teams involved and how it works, as well as the future of Formula 2. So if you’re interested in learning more, stay tuned.
The Early Days Of Formula 2 Racing
The beginning of Formula 2 racing as we know it goes all the way back to the 1940s when Grand Prix racing top tier and secondary levels were created to allow drivers to gain experience and showcase what they could do.
The first Formula 2 event to be organised took place in 1948 at the Monza circuit in Italy. Back then, Formula 2 racing was known as Formula B, with Formula 1 racing dubbed Formula A.
The racing championship was initially designed to use cars with 2-litre naturally aspirated engines, to make it a cheaper alternative to other top-tier categories. Cars that are naturally aspirated breathe air at atmospheric pressure, rather than using forced induction caused by added extras such as turbochargers or superchargers.
Because the cars used in Formula 2 racing in the early days did not require any added extras like those mentioned above, they were much easier to run and more durable. This made Formula 2 racing more affordable, as the cars were more reliable, maintained easier than those with forced induction systems, and less prone to issues that required costly fixes.
The first-ever Formula 2 winner was Giuseppe Farina, an Italian driver who went on to win the first-ever Formula One World Championship two years later!
Changes In Formula 2 Racing: Moving With The Times
As Formula 2 began to cement its place in the car racing industry, drivers from countries all over the world began to take notice and get involved in the championship, with aspiring drivers coming from Italy, France, and Britain to compete.
But as Formula 2 grew, the championship which was once known as the more affordable alternative to Formula 1 driving became more prestigious. While the category’s drivers previously used small, naturally aspirated engines, as technology and cars became more advanced, so too did the vehicles used.
Faster cars with bigger engines and added technology took the racing world by storm, with more and more young drivers competing to showcase their skills with the hope of advancing to F1. Today, some famous faces who are now regulars on the Formula 1 track, and who previously held a Formula 2 title include Mick Schumacher, son of the legendary driver Michael Schumacher and George Russell to name a few.
Formula 2 Teams And Drivers
At present, in 2023, there are 11 teams taking part in Formula 2 racing, with 14 drivers competing across 14 rounds.
The teams and drivers are:
MP Motorsport: Dennis Hauger and Jehan Daruvala
MP Motorsport are a Dutch motorsports team who are currently competing in championships and programmes including Formula 2, Formula 3, and the newly established Formula 1 Academy to name a few.
Founded in 1994, MP Motorsport aims to take young talent from the beginning of their racing careers right up until the most prestigious levels of racing.
Dennis Hauger, one of MP Motorsport’s young talents, has had a keen interest in motor racing since his early days, after watching his father Tom Hauger who was involved in rally racing and worked as a mechanic, so the car influences existed all around him in his everyday life.
Hauger, aged 20, started his racing career in 2015 and has gone from strength to strength since, winning the 2019 Formula 4 ADAC and the 2021 FIA Formula 3.
Jehan Daruvala has had a hugely successful motor racing career and he’s only getting started. Aged 24, Daruvala has already raced as part of the Red Bull Formula 1 junior team and is currently participating in Formula 2 for MP Motorsport.
Rodin Carlin: Zane Maloney and Enzo Fittipaldi
Rodin Carlin is arguably one of the most successful teams in British Motorsports, with wins in many championships including British F3, Formula 3 European Championships, and FIA Formula 2 among the years of successes for the team.
Some of the household names in motor racing who have represented Rodin Carlin include George Russell, Carlos Sainz, and Lando Norris.
Zane Maloney, aged 19, is currently seeking glory in the Formula 2 championships as part of the Rodin Carlin team. Maloney has motor racing in his genes, with his grandfather being one of the first to circuit race in Barbados where the family grew up. Maloney’s father and uncles were also heavily interested in kart racing, and so car racing had a heavy influence on his upbringing.
Enzo Fittipaldi is the second member of the Rodin Carlin team competing in the Formula 2 championship. Known as the “little shark” to his fans, and similarly to his teammate Zane Maloney, Fittipaldi has motor car racing in his blood, with his grandfather Emerson Fittipaldi taking the Formula 1 crown on two occasions.
Art Grand Prix: Theo Pourchaire, Nikola Tsolov and Victor Martins
Art Grand Prix, formerly known as ASM F3, has been participating in the motorsports industry since its founding in 1996, with the aim of providing a platform to young up-and-coming drivers to fine-tune their skills through the various levels of competing at professional levels.
The French team competes in primarily open-wheel development categories, which means the cars used to compete have their wheels outside of the car’s main body. These types of cars, which are also known as “formula cars” usually only have one seat and they contrast with regular street cars which have their wheels below the body or inside fenders.
French driver Theo Pourchaire has had great success in his career so far and has even made the record books, being the youngest-ever starter in the FIA Formula 2 Championship with his team Art Grand Prix.
And this wasn’t the first record Pourchaire has made: In 2019, aged 16, Pourchaire won his first FIA Formula 3 championship, which made him the youngest driver to win in FIA Formula 3.
Victor Martins, the second French member of the Art Grand Prix team, has been competing professionally since 2016, with wins in the 2020 Formula Renault Eurocup and the 2022.
FIA Formula 3 Championship under his belt so far. Having just joined Formula 2 this year, Martins will be competing alongside his teammate Theo Pourchaire hoping for success with Art Grand Prix.
Prema Racing: Frederik Vesti and Oliver Bearman
Prema Racing is an Italian motorsports team who were founded in the 1980s. The team has become popularly known for its contribution to junior motor racing, with the technical department in Prema Racing coming from various prestigious universities across Europe, some of whom have international racing backgrounds, offering their expertise to up-and-coming motor racing talents.
Prema has had some of motor racing’s most popular names competing under their team name, some of whom include Mick Schumacher and Charles Leclerc.
Competing for Prema this year in the Formula 2 championship is Frederik Vesti, who had an impressive breakthrough in 2019 after beginning his professional racing career in 2016. Whilst competing for the Formula Regional European title in 2019, Vesti ranked in 24 races with 13 wins overall.
Alongside Vesti competing for Prema Racing in Formula 2 is the British driver Oliver Bearman. Bearman has been driving since the age of 8 years old when he joined a karting club and began competing. His professional racing career took off in 2020 and soon after this, in 2021, Bearman won two championships: the Italian Formula 4 Championship and the ADAC Formula 4 Championship.
Hitech Pulse-Eight: Jak Crawford and Isack Hadjar
Hitech GP, which was once known as Hitech Grand Prix, is a British Motor Racing team that started out racing in the Formula 3 Championships. The team was founded in 2015 and is based next to the famous Silverstone Circuit, the venue known mainly as the hosting location for the British Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Today, the team competes in championships such as the FIA Formula 2 and 3 and the FIA Sanctioned British and United Arab Emirates Formula 4 Championships to name a few.
One of their team sponsors is Pulse-Eight, one of the industry-leading and award-winning suppliers of Video and Audio equipment in the United Kingdom.
Competing in Formula 2 for Hitech Pulse-Eight this year is Jak Crawford and Isack Hadjar. Jak Crawford previously competed in the Formula 3 Championship for Prema Racing and has been promoted to Formula 2 level. The American motor racer is part of the Red Bull Junior team, racing with them in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
Isack Hadjar is also competing with Hitech Pulse Eight in the Formula 2 Championship hoping for glory. The 18-year-old French driver has also raced as part of the Red Bull junior team like his teammate Crawford and has had great success in Formula 3 racing, finishing the season in fourth place before progressing to F2.
DAMS: Ayumu Iwasa and Arthur Leclerc
DAMS is a Formula 2 team founded in France in 2017. The team has raced in F2 every year since then, with over 30 drivers who have competed for DAMS progressing to Formula 1 or becoming professional drivers.
Some of the famous faces who have driven for DAMS and are now competing in Formula 1 include Pierre Gasly, Kevin Magnussen, and Carlos Sainz.
Ayumu Iwasa is no stranger to driving at a professional level, having accomplished quite a bit in his 21 years. Iwasa has previously driven as part of the Red Bull Junior team as well as the Honda Formula Dream Project team, but most impressively, he was crowned champion in the French Formula 4 Championship in 2020 and since then, his career has gone from strength to strength.
Alongside Iwasa driving for DAMS is Arthur Leclerc. The Leclercs are no strangers to professional driving, with Arthur’s older brother Charles Leclerc competing as part of the Formula 1 Ferarri Academy.
The 22-year-old motor racing driver from Monaco will be hoping to follow in the successful footsteps of his brother, and he’s off to a great start, winning the FIA Formula 3 Championship in 2022 and progressing to Formula 2 with DAMS.
Invicta Virtuosi Racing: Jack Doohan and Amaury Cordeel
Invicta Virtuosi Racing is a British team that currently competes in the Formula 2 and Formula 4 Championships. The team, which was originally called Virtuosi UK was founded in 2012 and competed firstly in the Auto GP Championship.
PHM Racing: Roy Nissany and Brad Benavides
PHM Racing enters the 2023 FIA Formula 2 Championship running an intriguing driver pairing. Israeli driver Roy Nissany brings experience and consistency, while American Brad Benavides hopes to impress in his rookie season after showing well in the Formula 3 championship.
While PHM Racing has previously struggled for pace in recent seasons, both drivers aim to help the Italian squad take a step forward and challenge for points.
Trident: Roman Staněk and Clement Novalak
The Italian Trident squad is yet another well-experienced F2 team that will need to find more speed if its drivers are to succeed. Roman Staněk steps up from F3 with the backing of the Ferrari Driver Academy, while Frenchman Clement Novalak enters his third F2 season. With a strong technical team, Trident will aim for points consistency and development through 2023 for its young duo.
Van Amersfoort Racing: Richard Verschoor and Juan Manuel Correa
Dutch motor racing team Van Amersfoort Racing has arrived in F2 after success in junior categories. Red Bull Junior driver Richard Verschoor brings both experience and speed, while Juan Manuel Correa has impressed through his remarkable comeback from serious injury. With Verschoor pushing the team’s development, Correa will target regular points finishes in his rookie F2 campaign.
Campos Racing: Kush Maini and Ralph Boschung
Campos Racing continues its long Formula 2 history by signing an exciting 2023 lineup. Experienced hand Ralph Boschung should lead the charge for the Spanish team, while Indian driver Kush Maini makes a full-time step up after contesting the final rounds of 2022.
If Campos can unlock Maini’s potential and add Boschung’s consistency, the team could fight at the sharp end of a crowded midfield.
Format Of The Formula 2 Racing Championship And Differences From F1
For those of you who are familiar with Formula 1 but perhaps less so with Formula 2, there are differences in the way the Championships are formatted. Let’s take a look at how the Formula 2 Championship works and how it is different from F1:
- One of the main differences between Formula 1 and Formula 2 is that Formula 2 is a multi-race format. Formula 2 has the Qualifying Session on Friday following a practice session, and the Feature Race on Sunday like F1, however, F2 also has a shortened race named the ‘Spring Race’ which allows drivers competing in Formula 2 to test out their cars and skills such as overtaking before the main events take place.
- Cars competing in the Formula 2 Championships are all the same, whereas this is not the case for Formula 1 cars. We touch on this a little more in the next section, Formula 2 Cars.
- The engines used in cars racing at Formula 2 level have approximately 620 horsepower at maximum performance, whereas the engines used by drivers in Formula 1 have 1,000 horsepower when performing at their maximum.
- Races in the Formula 2 Championship tend to be shorter than F1 races, which have more strategically planned routes with various tyre and pit stops available along the track.
- Another key difference is that Formula 2 races do not take place on every Formula 1 weekend, which means there are more Formula 1 races taking place each year when compared to F2, with approximately 23 F1 races scheduled for this year and 14 Formula 2 races.
Formula 2 Race Weekend
The FIA Formula 2 Championship sees young driving talents battle wheel-to-wheel as they aim to reach Formula 1. The feeder series visits iconic F1 venues across Europe, Asia and the Americas.
Each Formula 2 race weekend features two races to test driver skills. On the first day of the championship, the Friday, the teams engage in 60 minutes of free practice to dial in car setups around tight street circuits or high-speed permanent tracks.
Drivers then have 30 minutes to perfect their qualifying laps, as grid position is crucial for the Saturday sprint race. Sunday’s main feature race is the weekend’s climax, with mandatory pit stops adding strategy to a battle between rising stars.
Points are awarded to the top ten drivers in each race. The champion is the most consistent driver who has been a high scorer across a season of intense racing action. Formula 2’s unique format creates unpredictable, must-see racing as drivers chase the ultimate dream of reaching Formula 1.
Formula 2 Cars
We touched briefly in the History of Formula 2 on the type of car that drivers used when competing at the secondary level in the early days, however, like most things, this has changed greatly over time and as technology has advanced, so too have the cars used in F2 championships.
One of the key differences between cars used in Formula 1 and Formula 2 is that cars in F2 racing are purchased by the teams, whereas cars in F1 are built in-house. Some more key features of Formula 2 cars when compared to Formula 1 cars are:
- Formula 2 cars are known as “spec series”. This means all of the cars competing at this level are exactly the same.
- F2 cars are powered by Mechachrome V6 turbocharged engines, which are similar to those used by Formula 1 drivers but are slightly less powerful.
- Formula 2 cars weigh approximately 755kg, which is lighter than Formula 1 cars, which weigh approximately 795kg. This allows Formula 2 cars to pick up a greater speed than their F1 counterparts, which is important, as their engines are smaller.
- While the tyres on Formula 1 and Formula 2 cars are both provided by the Italian company Pirelli, the tyres fitted on F2 cars don’t have the same level of grip as those on F1 vehicles.
- Formula 2 has made it a core rule that all of the drivers use the same engine and tyre supplier so drivers are winning based on their skills, ability and talent, rather than the type of car they’re driving.
- Formula 2 cars are all built at exactly the same length and height.
However, despite their differences, Formula 1 and Formula 2 cars do share some similarities: Both types of cars have only one seat and contain many of the same safety features, some of which include impact-absorbing materials, roll cages and fire suppression systems.
Formula 2: The Key Stepping Stone To F1 Success
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