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Did Austria sprint shootout expose need for F1 tyre rule rethink?



That’s of course how it behaved after the wet weather, which voided the strict tire-use rules in Saturday’s penalty shootout and allowed everyone to use whatever slick compound they wanted across three races.

This resulted in some crazy lap times as the drivers worked hard on the soft tires they could. But in SQ3, Nico Hulkenberg finished fourth in the sprint on the new medium, while the others were on second-hand soft tyres.

The whole spectacle suggests that consideration should be given to the format that F1 has stumbled across in Austria for the remainder of the season, possibly even starting at Spa at the end of the month.

To recall, when the rules for Saturday’s independent sprint were set ahead of Azerbaijan, how tires were used at the weekend was one of the main talking points between the FIA, teams and Pirelli. The bottom line is that the previously largely redundant FP2 stage was replaced by a three-part qualifying session, which meant additional demand for new soft tyres.

“The discussions started in Baku because the decision to change to this new format was made very late and we had already delivered the tires to Baku,” said Pirelli F1 boss Mario Isola. “We’ve defined the distribution. That’s a sprint race. When we have discussions, I say the tires are already there, or they’re getting to the track. So if you want to change the breakdown of the compound, we need time to make reaction.

“So, during the sports committee, we had a discussion about this. We said let’s try to imagine how we would play weekend games with the allocations that have been established. Obviously, you have more soft composites than you would in a standard game. Multiple Medium Sets.In standard races, you have eight soft sets, and in sprint events, you have six sets.

“The idea is that if I use one set of software in free practice, then I only have five sets. I need three or four for normal qualifying, and if I need two for the second round, I need five. Then the sprint race ran out of tires.”

Sprint weekend adds new element to F1 calendar

Sprint weekend adds new element to F1 calendar

Photography: Zack Mogg / motorsport pictures

Various permutations were kicked around, including free use throughout the weekend, but it was eventually decided to make mandatory distribution of the three penalty sessions, with both SQ1 and SQ2 using the new media and SQ2 also using the new software. SQ3.

“The alternative tire configuration that we will be testing in Budapest is two hard tires, two medium tires and two soft tires in the first, second and third quarters,” said Isola. “One idea was for us to borrow that idea and see what we could do to adapt to the new situation. The original idea was hard, medium and soft. But then we only had two sets of hard and four sets of Chinese. So we said yes Well, medium, medium, soft.”

In Baku, teams quickly realized, especially if they didn’t think they could make it to the third quarter, that there was no point in saving a set of software that might have been used more effectively in the early sessions. In fact, AlphaTauri did just that with Yuki Tsunoda, who used an extra set in FP1 to better prepare for GP qualifying, while McLaren did it with Lando Norris ( Lando Norris, who used an extra set in qualifying. The next day, the Japanese rider didn’t pass SQ3, so it didn’t matter, but Norris did.

He’s out of new softs, so in theory he won’t be able to race – but the gray area in the rules means the team is prepared to let him use intermediate tires on the dry track if he gets a start by doing a token lap Location. It would be a farce if he did, but it’s just as silly that he’s stuck in a garage with only nine cars running in the SQ3.

Extrapolating that multiple drivers either staying in the SQ3 garage for the next sprint in Austria or battling each other for dry time in international races doesn’t look good…

That’s why the FIA ​​is playing the clown role in the 2023 sprint rules. Should there be any anomalies or “unintended consequences”, changes will be allowed until the end of July, after Spa’s third sprint of the year, and at least eight teams agree to any changes. Ahead of Austria, the team officially backed the simple stopgap of allowing the SQ3 to run on any soft tyres, not just new ones, to address the car’s failure to run at all or its exit at Inter Milan.

With that in mind, and a strong suspicion that Saturday will be wet anyway, the teams adopted different approaches to tire use in Friday’s race in Austria, especially in qualifying for the main event. On top of that, the removal of lap times meant many drivers experienced more soft races than they planned.

Opinion: F1’s Austrian track’s simple solution limits hustle and bustle

Teams have come up with alternative strategies for when to use soft tires

Teams have come up with alternative strategies for when to use soft tires

Photography: Mark Sutton/ motorsport pictures

In fact, the range of how many sets of new softs drivers have left in Saturday’s race is surprising at the end of normal qualifying. Those who didn’t at all were Carlos Sainz, Lewis Hamilton, Pierre Gasly, Valtteri Bottas, Fernando Alonso, Lance Stroll, Hulkenberg Greg and Alex Albon.

Some drivers took a new set and Max Verstappen’s pace allowed him to advance with two sets remaining, while team-mate Sergio Perez also missed the third after missing the third period. Made two sets. The other four riders had two new kits and Kevin Magnussen somehow had three left.

If the rest of the weekend goes on as normal, SQ3 will be a battle between those who finish in the top 10 with new software left and those who only use the suit. However, rain on Saturday morning meant the track was declared wet ahead of the penalty shoot-out, meaning tires would be used for free if the track was dry.

In fact, the race was so dry from the start that the drivers could run on whatever tires they wanted across the three races. That means there’s more action on the track and more variation in who runs what and when than we would just go with a mid-medium-soft approach.

Only four drivers have finished in SQ3 on the new soft tyres, Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris and Esteban Ocon. All in all, it appeared to be a more interesting and hectic shootout than the one in Baku, suggesting that the open rules, allowing drivers to use their tires as they please on Friday and Saturday, should be seriously considered, at least for now.

If some riders take little or no software for these three parts in a shootout and have to rely on second-hand kits, so be it. It also means that those who go out in the first quarter will have more new tires to power them in the penalty shootout, which will be a mild form of reverse handicap.

“That’s a good point, and honestly, I agree with you,” Isola said of the free-to-use suggestion. “Because sometimes we confuse performance with wear. If you do a lap on a soft tire, it doesn’t make a difference.” That doesn’t mean the tire is done. This means you may have lost the peak grip of this tire, it’s true.

“In some cases, like Baku, we measured a very good level of grip recovery. That’s why on some tracks they tried the same set of tires several times in qualifying. So if we consider At this point, if we consider that all teams, all drivers are in the same situation, we should also accept that they can use old tires in sprints. Why not?

“If we want to talk about reducing tires, because we’re talking about it for sustainable reasons, one idea might be to reuse the tires. Obviously, you’re introducing basically the same effect as in normal qualifying, just using one set and not Not the fastest driver who can improve with two sets has an advantage, but also in normal qualifying, they save the race with new tires for the race, or they keep the new tires for Q3. So it’s always a discussion. “

Wet conditions and free choice of tires make for an exciting qualifying session

Wet conditions and free choice of tires make for an exciting qualifying session

Photography: Mark Sutton/ motorsport pictures

By the way, today (Wednesday) the FIA ​​Sports Advisory Committee is meeting at Silverstone and the sprint race will be high on the agenda. One option might be to run Spa in its original mid-medium-soft format, just to get another sample, and then consider making changes for the final three sprints of the year. But why not open it up for a weekend in Belgium and see what happens?

“The format is new, and I’m sure we can fine-tune it a little bit,” Isola said. “There is still room for improvement. Not an improvement, but we’ve now had the experience of two weekend sprints and it’s possible to analyze some of the details and change them to improve the performance. (Austrian penalty shootout) was a fantastic game for me. performance.

“It’s something we can do without making any changes (tire allocation). The other point is, for me now tire tuning is very complicated. Let’s learn from experience and try to do it in regulation better in order to make the game more similar to a normal, standard event.”

Will the team support the change? That remains to be seen. Some may prefer a less conservative approach, while others undoubtedly have a reason to choose a mid-medium-soft format over a smoother format.

“I think we’re still figuring it out,” said Aston Martin’s Mike Clarke. “These rules are there to create more spectacle. When we wanted to introduce them in Baku, there wasn’t a lot of time to develop them. , you’ve seen that they’ve also improved it for the (Austrian) weekend. I think we’re finding out more and more what it means.

“Right now, all their strategists have upfront told you what’s going to happen in this situation, in that situation. But I don’t think we need to make changes too quickly, maybe a year, another four.” (Sprints) coming, and then maybe a retrospective and say where do we need to make adjustments?

“But all in all, it’s pretty intense. If you’re in a situation like that and have that much freedom, it’s going to be very, very stressful for the team and the crew.”

Will F1 change sprint tire rules before season ends?

Will F1 change sprint tire rules before season ends?

Photography: Alessio Morges


Vandoorne to drive Aston Martin F1 car in Pirelli tyre test at Spa




Aston reserve driver Vandoorne will share driving duties with team principal Lance Stroll, while Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri will each drive a day for McLaren.

It will be the Belgian’s first time driving an active F1 car on track since December 2020 when he represented Mercedes in Abu Dhabi testing.

While the Spa test will focus on Pirelli’s no-carpet tyres, it will give Vandoorne a valuable opportunity to sample the 2023 car, helping him correlate with Aston Martin’s simulator work.

If either Stroll or Fernando Alonso were unwell at any point for the rest of the season, his life would also be made easier.

The 31-year-old shared the Aston substitute with defending Formula Two champion Felipe Drugovich, and the two took turns on call.

Dubovic drove the AMR23 for two days during the Bahrain test in February, when Stroll was not present, and he had the opportunity to test drive the AMR23. Since then, the Brazilian has continued to rack up more miles in private testing of the 2021 car.

Stoffel Vandoorne, Reserve Driver, Aston Martin F1 Team

Stoffel Vandoorne, Reserve Driver, Aston Martin F1 Team

Photography: Mark Sutton/ motorsport pictures

As well as his role at Aston, Vandoorne is one of McLaren’s backup drivers and his performance at Spa will also make it easier for him to step into the MCL60 should the need arise.

As well as giving him a general feel for downforce levels for 2023, the two cars share the Mercedes powerplant and thus have similar settings on their respective steering wheels.

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Vandoorne made his F1 debut for McLaren in Bahrain in 2016, replacing current Aston team-mate Alonso.

He then completed two full seasons in 2017 and 2018, the first with Honda power and the second with Renault. He finished 16th at the World Championships in both seasons, with a best finish of seventh.

He was dropped by McLaren at the end of 2018, but has since rebuilt his career in Formula E, winning the 2021-22 championship for Mercedes and serving as an F1 substitute.

He currently drives for the DS Penske Formula E team and is also a substitute for the Peugeot WEC team.

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McLaren “true contenders” for F1 best of the rest tag




McLaren has only scored one point after three rounds in 2023 as it struggles to find the car competitive.

But both Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri have seen plenty of upgrades in recent races, allowing the former to finish second in a row, while Piastri has finished in the top five in each of his past two races.

Despite being 136 points behind second-placed Mercedes in the constructors’ championship, Russell believes McLaren is a real threat for the remainder of the race behind leaders Red Bull.

“Obviously they’re a real contender for second fastest team,” Russell said of Woking.

“Oddly enough, Aston Martin was clearly second at the start of the year.

“And they don’t seem to be that competitive now. Ferrari haven’t made much progress. McLaren has made huge progress.

“So without McLaren we’d be very, very happy with the progress we’ve made. Leading the midfield, widening the gap and closing in on Red Bull.

“McLaren has just fully embraced it. But that makes you optimistic that bigger strides are possible.

“I believe in my team. I think it gives us the confidence and optimism to take this step towards Red Bull.

“We’re not too focused on McLaren, Aston or Ferrari. We’re focused on Red Bull. We’re trying to make that big step.”

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Photography: Steve Etherington/ motorsport pictures

Russell fought his way back from 18th on the grid at last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, jumping to sixth at the checkered flag after Mercedes strategists told him 11th was his favorite.

Russell was pleased with the final result, but felt it was “proof” of a “missed opportunity” for Hungary.

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“The strategy tells me that if we maximize everything, the P11 is the most realistic, the P7 is the most realistic,” Russell told Autosport.

“Sixth place without a safety car, without a VSC, it’s a really great result.

“But it also proved that this weekend could be a missed opportunity. I believe I could have gone there with Lewis yesterday, it’s one of my favorite circuits and the car always does well here.

“When you have two cars out there, fighting for second gives you more options, and Lewis is also very strong. If things turned out a little differently, he would also be P2.

“So as a missed opportunity we will learn from it. But the positive side is we are leading Aston and Ferrari.”

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Top speed, car sizes, race weekends and more compared




Formula 1 has relied on junior classes to develop the next generation of drivers, and its teams are eager to snag their brightest talent.

The ‘old’ Formula 2 car was a ruleset rather than its own separate entity, sometimes sharing the grid with F1, and later rule changes made the two cars separate championships.

The second class was renamed the F3000 in 1985 as the series switched to a naturally aspirated engine formula and extended the life of the earlier Cosworth DFV lineage. Throughout the life of the F3000, different engine and chassis suppliers came and went, with companies including Reynard, Lola, Ralt and March among them, all producing cars before the championship became a single specification.

When the F3000 championship began to fade due to declining team interest and declining track quality, the second level of racing was reborn in 2005. Bernie Ecclestone tried to bring the junior championship to F1’s bottom line and, along with Flavio Briatore and Bruno Michel, helped build the GP2 series.

GP2 became the FIA ​​Formula Two Championship in 2017, but many key hallmarks of GP2’s early series have stood the test of time. The GP3 series, a third-tier category designed to compete with the myriad Formula 3 championships around it, was added to the F1 Act in 2010 and became FIA ​​Formula 3 in 2019.

There are major differences in the way F2 is run compared to F1, there are subtle changes in form and there are big differences in the overall performance of the cars. The following are the key areas of comparison between F1 and F2.

F1 vs. F2 – key differences


Formula 1

Formula Two

top speed

220+ mph

208 mph

Minimum weight including driver

798 kg

788 kg




engine size

1.6 liter V6

3.4 liter V6

Approximate Power

1,000 horsepower

620 hp

car size

5.63m x 2m x 0.95m

5.22m x 1.9m x 1.09m

tire size

18 inches

18 inches

game every weekend

One (two for sprint weekends)

Two (one sprint, one feature)

game length

305 km/190 miles

Sprint – 120 km/74.5 miles

Features – 170 km/105.6 miles






twenty two

2023 Pole Times – Red Bull Ring

1 point 04.391

1 meter 14,643

2023 Pole Times – Monaco

1 meter 11.365

1 meter 21.053

2023 Pole Times – Silverstone

1 meter 26.720

1 meter 39,832

Current single-spec F2 cars can be seen as simpler, smaller versions of F1 cars

Current single-spec F2 cars can be seen as simpler, smaller versions of F1 cars

Photography: Simon Galloway/ motorsport pictures

What is the difference between F1 and F2 racing?

In F1, each team designs its own chassis according to a set of well-defined technical regulations laid down by the FIA. For the 2022 ruleset, the FIA ​​has updated the wording of the rules to better define the bounding box within which bodies can be developed and build a system more in line with the proliferation of available CAD products.

It features a range of safety systems such as a roll cage, halo and anti-intrusion panels mounted around the monocoque. There are also anti-collision structures on the side, front and rear of the car to minimize the impact on the driver in the car.

F2 is a single-spec series with all teams using the Dallara F2 2018 model. The car and driver must weigh a minimum of 788kg and feature F1 standard safety features such as the aforementioned crash structures and halos. Use only parts supplied by Dallara, Hewland or sold by F2 promoters.

F2 cars use floor venturi tunnels, which F1 adopts in 2022, 40 years after banning ground-effect aerodynamics. These designs aren’t as extreme as those in F1, but they work on the same principle, and the car is also enhanced with front and rear wings to create downforce. Like F1, F2 cars are fitted with a Drag Reduction System (DRS), which operates on the same parameters as its parent series.

While F1 cars typically reach speeds in excess of 220 mph during a race, with DRS switched on, an F2 car could theoretically hit 208 mph at full low downforce.

What is the difference between F1 and F2 tires?

Pirelli supplies all championships on the official F1 ladder, and F2 and F3 also use the Italian company’s rubber.

F2 started using 18-inch tires in 2020, two years before entering F1. F2 tires are slightly narrower than F1 tires and generally have less grip because of the naturally lower speeds of the junior series cars.

There are four dry-weather tire compounds for the F2: hard, medium, soft and supersoft – with the first three using the same white, yellow and red color coding as the F1. Extra soft textures are indicated by purple text on the side walls. Each car is supplied with five sets of dry weather tires per wheel, consisting of two of the prescribed compounds, with a set of “premium” tires to be returned after practice. Three sets of wet tires are also available – the F2 has no intermediate compound.

Tire blankets are banned in F2, meaning drivers must warm up their tires naturally. This often creates a larger offset during the pit stops, with drivers leaving the pits vulnerable to those who have already completed laps in the new group.

The “primary” and “option” compounds (harder tires are the main tires and softer tires are the options) must be used during featured races, and pit stops are required to replace them. Tire parking is allowed during a sprint, but not mandatory. Since only two dry compounds are used each weekend, Pirelli and F2 decide which tire to use before the weekend. There may be a single step in the compound (for example, medium and soft), or there may be a larger step for greater excursions (for example, medium and extra soft).

620bhp Mecachrome F2 engine

620bhp Mecachrome F2 engine

Photography: Sutton Images

What is the difference between F1 and F2 powertrains?

F1 has used a turbo-hybrid system since 2014, with a turbocharger and a motor-generator set on the rear axle to form a hybrid package. The internal combustion engine is a 1.6-liter V6. By 2022, F1 engines run on E10 fuel, where 10% of the fuel composition consists of combustibles of biosourced origin.

The MGU-K in an F1 car can produce up to 160bhp for a total power output of around 1000bhp. Figures for F1’s current four powertrain manufacturers (Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and Red Bull Powertrain) vary but are all believed to have efficiencies in excess of 50%.

F2’s single-spec powertrain is produced by French manufacturer Mecachrome, which briefly participated in F1 in 1998 and 1999, and took over Renault’s engine program. The Mecachrome unit was a 3.4-litre V6 engine, virtually the same one used in the F3, but with a modified turbocharger from Van der Lee. It produces around 620bhp and is driven by a six-speed Hewland gearbox.

To ensure fairness in powertrain supply, Mecachrome units are randomly assigned to teams, as there may be minor differences in overall power output.

F2 is currently being used as a test bed to assist F1 in developing more sustainable fuel, using Aramco-produced fuel with 55% of its content from sustainable bio-sources, with the aim of increasing this figure to 100% by 2026/27. The Saudi oil brand replaced longtime supplier Elf as the sole producer of the F2 fuel.

How much does F1 cost compared to F2?

In recent years, Formula 1 has been constrained by a cost cap of about $135 million through 2023, with some minor adjustments for inflation and other ancillary costs. The cost cap covers most development and operating costs, but excludes driver salaries, salaries of the team’s three highest-paid employees, travel costs and marketing expenses. As Red Bull found out in 2022, violating this cap carries a range of penalties depending on the extent of the overrun.

The bulk of this budget comes from the FIA’s prize money, investment and sponsorship mix. Some teams, such as Red Bull and Mercedes, are self-sufficient in terms of bonuses and sponsors and do not require direct input from their ownership structures.

F2 teams have much smaller budgets, and with the series’ fairly limited reach, teams will rarely start the season with a full sponsor portfolio ready to fund every race. As such, drivers should pay for their rides through their own sponsors or a driver academy.

Depending on the team, the budget of an F2 driver can vary from 2 million to 3 million euros, and can even exceed this budget to get a seat in a better team. To keep costs down, F2 limited the number of employees working on each car on race weekends and designed the cars to be relatively cheap. A team can buy a complete F2 car, without the engine, for around 500,000 euros.

George Russell, Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc are recent notable F2 graduates entering F1

George Russell, Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc are recent notable F2 graduates entering F1

Photography: Glenn Dunbar/ motorsport pictures

How do drivers get from F2 to F1?

To compete in F2, drivers must hold an A or B international FIA license. They cannot conduct private tests on F2 machines, only the group tests offered by the series. There are also restrictions on the single-seater cars that drivers can test in private, and if a driver is double-duty in another category, they must commit to racing in F2 in the event of any conflict.

Depending on a driver’s final standing at the end of the F2 season, they may receive Superlicense points to help qualify for F1. To obtain a super license to compete in F1, a driver needs to earn 40 points.

The distribution of Super License points is:

end of season position

SL points

first place


second place


third place


fourth place


the fifth place


sixth place


Number 7


number 8




No. 10


These can be applied cumulatively over the course of three seasons.

F1 VS F2 weekend format

F1 has been running in the same basic format for years, with FP1 and FP2 taking place on Fridays, each one hour long. FP3 races are also one hour long and take place on the Saturday before the three-stage qualifying format in place since 2006. F1 races must be at least 305 kilometers in length (excluding Monaco) and must not exceed two hours in duration, with a three-hour window if any red flags are raised.

However, sprint weekends are different and that changes for 2023. The only practice session kicked off with Friday’s race, followed by qualifying for Sunday’s Grand Prix. Sprint qualifying and the race are both held on Saturdays, with 2023 seeing six sprint weekends for added variety.

F2 has a practice session lasting 45 minutes on Friday, with a half-hour qualifying session later in the day. It’s effectively a time trial and drivers just need to maintain the fastest lap at the end of the race to secure pole for Sunday’s race.

Many F1 teams have junior drivers in F2 teams

Many F1 teams have junior drivers in F2 teams

Photography: Red Bull Content Pool

The sprint race takes place on Saturday, using the same grid as qualifying, but with the top ten swapped. The number of laps “equal to the minimum number of complete laps over a distance of 120 km (100 km in Monaco)”, according to the 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 scoring system, the score is finally dropped to eighth place, and the fastest lap points are awarded to the top 10 competitors.

The F2 weekend’s featured race “should be equal to the minimum number of complete laps over a distance of 170km (140km in Monaco, 160km in Budapest)”. It features mandatory pit stops where drivers must use both primary and optional compounds during the race. If a driver pits before completing the sixth lap, the mandatory stop does not count. This information is also not recorded if a driver stops under the Virtual Safety Car unless they are already in the pits when the VSC is triggered.

F2 attempted three weekend races in 2021, but the practice was generally unpopular and canceled for 2022 due to gaps left on the calendar. Prior to this, the main race was held on Saturday, and the starting position of the sprint race was determined by the results and the reversal of the top eight.

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