[How F1’s best and worst traits have shaped the new ground-effect F2 car
But it has not been entirely smooth sailing in the 18 months since the new ground-effect cars emerged, with grand prix racing having endured its share of ups and downs.
On the positive side, the cars do seem better able to follow each other than the older generation of machinery, which has allowed for some closer battles than we would have otherwise anticipated.
However, there have been some headaches too, especially when it came to F1 teams and the rule makers battling the severe porpoising that blighted the early running with the new cars.
It says much about the positives of the new rules set, however, that, as feeder series F2 looked to deliver its next-generation car for 2024, it has taken on board many of the lessons learned from F1.
Rather than electing to stick to a simple evolution of its current tried and tested design formula, its 2024 rules set very much moves it more towards F1’s current generation – with ground effect, similar wing concepts (excluding the eye-catching DRS element) and like-for-like safety standards.
And it is all aimed at one thing: producing a car that can race well.
As F2’s technical director Didier Perrin said: “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 who works across all categories, is clear that the positive lessons taken on board from F1 since the start of 2022 have been decisive in shaping the direction of the F2 challenger.
Asked by Motorsport.com about the transfer between F1 and F2, Goss said: “The 2022 F1 car did make a significant step forward in terms of how closely the cars could follow through corners.
F2 2024 Car
Photo by: Jake Grant / Motorsport Images
“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.
“What we took as a starting point for the F2 car was the FIA had developed an F1 baseline, the actual code name of the car was Uniform. And we morphed that into a Formula 2-sized car with F2-sized tyres, etc.
“Then what we had to do was, as we couldn’t just take that as the car to take forward, we had to respect the performance figures that we were aiming for in F2, and also the fact that we have to take complexity out of the car and try to keep the cost down.”
That DRS rear wing
It has not just been a simple copy-and-paste exercise though, and the FIA and F2 have elected to take some extra steps to ensure the car continues to help produce good racing.
Nothing shows that more than the eye-catching rear wing, which features a huge fan-shaped main beam DRS element that will trigger a massive speed delta when it is used.
Goss explains that the design was triggered by a desire to make sure DRS was very effective.
“What we were looking for was a given size of DRS delta, so you need to make sure that you’ve got enough authority,” he said.
“It’s easy to turn DRS down. You can do that with zone lengths, and number of zones, things like that, but you really just have to make sure that you have enough authority.
F2 2024 Car rear wing
Photo by: Jon Noble
“To be honest, one of the biggest challenges with the rear of the car and the rear wing was putting an F1 style rear wing on with the rolled edges, which are good for the wake performance, whilst being mindful of the cost and simplicity in the real world.
“So what Dallara have come up with, I think, is a fantastic solution in terms of delivering the required wake performance, great aesthetics, and something that delivers the DRS.”
The move towards a ground effect car has inevitably raised the prospect of F2 suffering from the same porpoising fate that has overshadowed F1 to a greater or lesser extent for the past 18 months.
But Goss is adamant that, while everyone on the grand prix grid was taken by surprise about the extent of the bouncing at the start of 2022, the knowledge of the factors at play now is helping teams avoid it.
Those very same lessons are being applied to the F2 car, which is why he thinks the series can avoid falling into the same trap F1 did.
“We were very conscious of that when we got into the specification of this car because just at the time we were laying out the requirements of the car with the promoter, F1 was in trouble with experiencing quite significant porpoising on the cars.
“We obviously knew a reasonable amount about it ourselves and, in determining the specification of the car and what we wanted to achieve in improving car following, we also wanted to make sure that, whilst we’re moving to more ground effects, we weren’t overdriving the floor and we weren’t putting too many demands on the floor.
“It was really quite important to us that in terms of the aerodynamics of the car, that the solution was one which generated downforce with the car at higher ride heights, and that there wasn’t the need to drive the set-up ever lower and get into porpoising problems.”
F2 2024 Car
Photo by: Jake Grant / Motorsport Images
And while proof of how well the F2 car has avoided porpoising will only be known when proper performance track testing begins later this month, series chiefs are optimistic about it.
Perrin added: “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 will check it, and obviously it will be one of the first things that we will check, that we are not affected by porpoising. We are confident that it will not happen.”
The new-generation F2 car is a great example of lessons in one category being applied to another, and the positive trickle-down effect that F1 knowledge can have in other series.
But things will not stop there. The FIA hopes the lessons about what is needed to produce good ‘racing’ cars can follow through into the new F3 car that is coming for 2025.
As Goss said: “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.”