It’s time for the Temple of Speed! Formula 2 is back at The Monza Circuit, after a chaotic round at Zandvoort one week ago, and the main talking point in the new 2024 car.
The top four drivers in the Drivers’ Standings failed to score over the entire previous weekend, and will be hoping to rediscover their lost form at the penultimate round of the 2023 FIA Formula 2 Championship.
Fortunately, weather forecasts are predicting dry conditions over the weekend, a welcome change. Let’s go over some of the main talking points heading into round 12 of the 2023 campaign in this latest F2 Report, but first the next generation of F2 car is finally here.
F2 has used the same aging Dallara F2 2018 chassis for six years now, a surprisingly long lifespan for a chassis in the premier Formula 1 support series.
Formula 2 CEO Bruno Michel promised that a brand-new design will be ready for action for the 2024 season, and we got our first look at one on Thursday, on display in the paddock.
There was plenty of speculation about the potential use of power steering and visual similarity to the current generation of F1 cars. And it looks like the Dallara’s latest design has ticked many of those boxes.
A sleek and minimalist body shape reminiscent of the F1 cars we’ve been graced with since 2022. This would help in allowing two battling cars to follow each other more closely and facilitate overtaking.
We can also see an overall longer nose section, which has been implemented in the name of safety.
The car will be used for three seasons until 2026, and will be powered by the same 3.4L six-cylinder Mecachrome engine, but will have several minor tweaks to allow it to run on fully sustainable fuel by 2025.
Michel commented on the next generation F2 car, saying: “I’m very proud to present our new F2 car, which will race for the next three years. Together with the FIA, we’ve designed a powerful, challenging and safe car that will prepare young drivers for F1.
“It has been designed also to fit all types of drivers, taking into account FIA’s consideration regarding the steering effort. This is obviously key to making our sport more inclusive, by enhancing our car’s driveability and comfort,” he added.
Former F2 driver Tatiana Calderon drove the 2024 car around the Varano Circuit recently. The suspension geometry and brake pedal forces have been tweaked to make steering and braking respectively require less effort, with a view to level the playing field between men and women.
Calderon commented: “I’m really happy to feel comfortable in the car, they’re taking it seriously to bring more women with equal opportunity into the sport.”
More information on the 2024 F2 car can be found here.
Drivers express excitement for racing around Monza
Monza is a favourite for many drivers on this year’s F2 grid, including some of the Championship favourites.
Alpine Academy driver Victor Martins was the only entrant in the top five in the Standings to score points at Zandvoort. He’ll be hoping to carry his positive momentum in Italy.
He said: “I enjoy driving at Monza for sure. First of all because I won the F3 Championship there and second, it’s the fastest track of the year. There’s a lot of overtaking opportunities.
“It’s easy on the tyres because it’s not so tough temperature-wise. There are long straights which cool down the tyres and there’s no deg, so it’s flat out to the end. I hope I can do a good performance again,” Martins explained.
The Frenchman closed the gap to Jack Doohan ahead of him to just eight points. Doohan had won back-to-back Feature races at the Hungaroring and Spa-Francorchamps, but a spin on the formation lap of the Feature race in The Netherlands meant his impressive run came to an end.
Nevertheless, the Aussie has high hopes for this upcoming weekend. He stated: “I’m super excited for Monza! We had a quick car there last year and I’m confident that we can replicate that again this weekend. I really like the circuit and enjoy it quite a lot.”
“With the slipstream in the races, it’s quite difficult to break away, so attacking and defending is happening a lot, a lot more frequently than normal, but it creates great opportunity,” he added.
“All in all, I think it’s a great circuit to have on the calendar and can’t wait to get started on Friday,” Doohan concluded.
L’autodromo Nazionale di Monza
Dubbed the “Temple of Speed” for being the location where the pinnacle of motorsport regularly attains its highest speeds, the Monza Circuit is a favourite amongst drivers and fans.
Even F2 cars break the 200mph barrier on the iconic racetrack. Zandvoort Feature race winner Clement Novalak reached 208mph on the main straight last year, which unsurprisingly was also the highest speed ever achieved by F2 machinery in the history of the series.
Average speeds are also high, with drivers spending 79% of the lap at full throttle. Tyre wear on the other hand is one of the lowest on the calendar, thanks to a high proportion of long straights which allows the rubber to cool down between braking zones.
With this in mind, Pirelli have decided to use softer compounds of tyre over the weekend. As Pirelli Motorsport Director Mario Isola explains: “A combination of softer compounds than last year will be used at the Italian circuit. Teams will be able to fit P Zero Yellow medium and P Zero Purple supersoft.”
Both during Qualifying and the races, slipstream will be a major factor in achieving a good result. Sticking close behind another car will reduce drag and allow the following driver to attain higher top speeds.
Doohan believes that slipstreaming will be crucial, especially in Qualifying. He said: “Qualifying is always a little bit tricky in Monza due to the slipstream, so car positioning and track position is vital and to ensure that the warm-up is correct and also, your positioning when starting a lap.”