Ever since the introduction of the new ground-effect cars, grand prix racing has experienced its fair share of triumphs and tribulations over the past 18 months.
On a positive note, these new cars seem to have an enhanced capability to track each other, leading to closer and more exciting encounters than previously anticipated with the older generation of vehicles. However, this transition hasn’t been devoid of challenges, particularly with regard to F1 teams and regulations dealing with significant porpoising issues that tainted the early stages of these new cars.
Impressively, the positive impact of the new rule set has not gone unnoticed. As the second-tier series, F2, rolled out their next generation car slated for 2024, they drew from various insights gained from F1. F2 did not just opt for a straightforward evolution of their well-tested existing design formula, but their 2024 rulebook leans heavily towards the techniques employed by F1’s current generation. This includes the use of ground effect, comparable wing designs and similar safety considerations.
This strategic move is centered on one key objective: the creation of a car primed for competitive racing. F2’s technical director Didier Perrin sheds light on the aim, stating, “With the aerodynamics of the car, we focused on the ability to overtake: so the possibility for a car to follow another one.”
Tim Goss, the FIA‘s technical director responsible for all categories, asserts that the lessons learned from F1 since the inception of the 2022 season played a pivotal role in shaping the architecture of the F2 challenger. In conversation with F1 Initiative, Goss explained, “The 2022 F1 car did make a significant step forward in terms of how closely the cars could follow through corners. That was through a lot of attention to detail on two things: the shape of the wake that’s generated from the back of the F1 car, but also how the front of the F1 car deals with disturbed flow.”
Since the introduction of these new designs, F2 has taken measures beyond a simple duplication of the FIA and F1 techniques to ensure the forthcoming cars will continue to facilitate competitive racing.
The most notable among these measures is the striking rear wing, with a unique fan-shaped main beam DRS component that promises significant speed variation when activated. Goss stressed the design was propelled by the goal of making DRS operation exceptionally effective.
The advent of ground effect cars does admittedly raise the potential issue of F2 encountering the familiar problem of porpoising that has plagued F1 over the past year and a half. However, Goss earnestly maintains that due to their thorough understanding of this phenomenon, they’ve managed to circumvent these issues during their transition to the F2 car.
Even as rigorous performance testing of the F2 car is due to commence later this month, series leaders are optimistic about the results, particularly regarding the much-contemplated issue of porpoising.
Offering reassurances, Perrin stated, “We obviously do not expect any porpoising because we worked alongside the FIA for the definition of the car. We took the benefit of the experience of the FIA and F1. We are confident that it will not happen.”
The evolution of the F2 car exemplifies the positive impact of applying knowledge gleaned from one series to another. However, progress won’t halt here. The FIA is also looking forward to applying these insights to the forthcoming F3 car for 2025. Goss concluded, “What we’re trying to do is take all the lessons learned from F1 and F2, to provide great racing. That is the target: to try to make great racing. And that goes beyond just having overtakes with DRS on straights, so we will carry that forward into F3.”