Is F2 a threat to GP2?
June 3, 2009 5 Comments
With the completion of the first FIA Formula Two race at Valencia this past weekend, articles have begun to surface once again regarding the relevance of this new racing series.
F2 is loosely modeled after the highly successful arrive-and-drive Skip Barber Race Series in the US, where great drivers such as Juan Pablo Montoya, Michael Andretti, Helio Castroneves, Ernesto Viso and Scott Speed have come from.
F2 is attractive because of its price, about €250k, period.
Other “advantages” are engines more powerful than F3 and its “evenly matched” playing field. Apart from the price, which today is attractive (but may not be tomorrow), the F2 “circus” today is but a mere side street show. It runs with WTCC, a dying series that is not hugely popular, and the International Formula Masters, ironically its direct competitor. Finally, the F2 grid is a mix of young talent and unknown drivers, with a lower proportion of future talent that can be found in Formula Renault or Formula BMW.
So where does the threat to GP2 fit in? It comes in the FIA’s intention to upgrade F2’s racing entourage, and push it up to race during F1 weekends. F2 wasn’t created solely as a “low cost” series for Jonathan Palmer and Williams to make some cash, but rather as a serious philosophical alternative to GP2 or the possible arrival of GP3 – which F2 most directly competes with.
GP2 for Max Mosley reads FOTA, and this means it is unwelcome in his future F1 world. Owned by CVC, running Renault engines and costing upwards of €1 million per seat, GP2 is going in the wrong direction in his book. F2 is more “communist”, if you permit the expression, with a “true” F1 constructor making the cars (Williams) and an outsider supplying the engines (Audi).
So where does this leave us? Again, in a political battle of mixed interests and concerns. What I can say is that F2 cannot fully substitute GP2 as a racing philosophy, where drivers compete with 600 BHP+ cars, similar in dimensions and performance to F1.
The F2 value proposition is solid, but I hope it makes its mark in the racing world where it belongs – right below GP2. I believe GP3 is superfluous and if the need for a full racing ladder exists in the F1 paddock, F2 should fill that spot. The problem is, I don’t feel that need exists, and the current racing ladder is quite complete today, with the important issue of bringing down exhorbitant cost structures – especially in the F3 Euroseries categories.