Formula 1 heavily relies on the junior classes to identify and cultivate the next wave of driving talents, with its teams constantly on the lookout for the most promising drivers within these categories.
Historically, Formula 2, more of a set of rules rather than a standalone entity, would occasionally share race grids with Formula 1. However, regulatory changes eventually separated the two, forming distinct championships.
In 1985, the secondary category underwent a rebranding to F3000, which coincided with a transition to a naturally aspirated engine formula, extending the life of the Cosworth DFV lineage in the initial years. The F3000 series saw various engine and chassis suppliers, such as Reynard, Lola, Ralt, and March, before it evolved into a single-spec formula.
By 2005, the F3000 championship began losing its appeal, leading to decreased interest from teams and lower grid quality. At this point, the second tier was reinvigorated with the establishment of the GP2 Series, thanks to efforts by Bernie Ecclestone, Flavio Briatore, and Bruno Michel, who wanted a junior championship to complement the F1 lineup.
In 2017, GP2 transitioned into the FIA Formula 2 Championship. The early GP2 series’ core characteristics have largely withstood the test of time. The GP3 Series, a third-tier category designed to rival numerous Formula 3 championships globally, became part of the F1 schedule in 2010 and later became FIA Formula 3 in 2019.
Formula 2’s operation significantly differs from that of Formula 1, with subtle alterations in the format and greater differences in overall car performance. Let’s delve into the primary areas where F1 and F2 diverge.
Here’s a table comparing the main characteristics of F1 and F2 vehicles:
Characteristic | Formula 1 | Formula 2
- | – | –
Top speed | 220mph+ | 208mph
Minimum weight (including driver) | 798kg | 788kg
DRS (Drag Reduction System) | Yes | Yes
Engine size | 1.6-litre V6 | 3.4-litre V6
Approximate power | 1,000bhp | 620bhp
Car size | 5.63m x 2m x 0.95m | 5.22m x 1.9m x 1.09m
Tyre size | 18-inch | 18-inch
Races per weekend | One (two on sprint weekends) | Two (one sprint, one feature)
Race length | 305km/190 miles | Sprint – 120km/74.5 miles, Feature – 170km / 105.6 miles
Teams | 10 | 11
Drivers | 20 | 22
2023 pole time – Red Bull Ring | 1m04.391 | 1m14.643
2023 pole time – Monaco | 1m11.365 | 1m21.053
2023 pole time – Silverstone | 1m26.720 | 1m39.832
The F2 cars of the current single-spec format can be considered smaller, simpler versions of F1 cars.
What differentiates F1 and F2 cars?
In Formula 1, every team designs its chassis according to a series of technical regulations defined by the FIA. The 2022 ruleset saw an update to the regulation language, creating a more concise definition for bodywork development and creating a system more compatible with the range of CAD products available.
The vehicles also include numerous safety systems like the roll hoop, halo, and anti-intrusion panels surrounding the monocoque, as well as impact structures at the car’s sides, front, and rear to protect the driver.
F2, being a single-spec series, utilizes the Dallara F2 2018 model across all teams. The car, including the driver, must weigh at least 788kg and features F1-standard safety measures like crash structures and the halo. Only parts supplied by Dallara, Hewland, or sold by the F2 promoter are permitted for use.
The F2 car has underfloor Venturi tunnels, which F1 adopted in 2022 after a 40-year ban on ground-effect aerodynamics. These tunnels, though less extreme than those in F1, work similarly and the car uses its front and rear wings to generate downforce. Like F1, the F2 vehicle also has a drag reduction system (DRS) following the same guidelines as its parent series.
During a race, F1 cars regularly exceed speeds of 220mph, whereas F2 cars can potentially reach speeds of 208mph with DRS open and in low-downforce trim.
What sets F1 and F2 tyres apart?
Pirelli supplies all championships on the official ladder to F1, including F2 and F3, with tyres. F2 started using 18-inch tyres in 2020, two years prior to their introduction in F1. The tyres used in F2 are slightly narrower than those used in F1, offering less grip as the junior-series car naturally operates at lower speeds.
F2 offers four dry-weather tyre compounds: hard, medium, soft, and supersoft. Each tyre can be identified by the color of the text on the sidewall: white, yellow, and red for the
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about F1 vs F2 comparison
What is the main difference between Formula 1 and Formula 2 cars?
The main difference between Formula 1 and Formula 2 cars lies in their design, power, and cost. Formula 1 cars are custom-made by each team, have powerful engines, and are more expensive. Formula 2 cars are identical and less powerful, but cheaper.
How does the cost difference affect Formula 1 and Formula 2?
The high cost of Formula 1 not only affects the design and power of the cars but also the overall competition. Only well-funded teams can afford to participate in Formula 1. Formula 2, on the other hand, being cheaper, allows more teams to participate, thereby promoting more equal competition.
Why are Formula 1 cars more powerful than Formula 2 cars?
Formula 1 cars are more powerful than Formula 2 cars because they are designed with higher-capacity engines and cutting-edge technologies. This makes them faster but also more complex and expensive. Formula 2 cars, being less powerful, are more focused on driver skills than on technology.
How does the design difference between Formula 1 and Formula 2 affect the races?
The design difference between Formula 1 and Formula 2 heavily affects the races. In Formula 1, races are often influenced by the technology and strategy of the teams due to the custom-made nature of the cars. In Formula 2, the races tend to be more about the drivers’ skills and strategies since the cars are identical.