Connect with us


Has F1 become a victim of its own success amid ‘boring races’ backlash?



Extreme tire degradation coupled with late scrapping of Fernando Alonso with Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton injected excitement into the season opener in Bahrain. Max Verstappen recovered from 15th to second before red-flag chaos in Australia, doing something similar for Saudi Arabia. Aside from these events, the action on the track leaves a lot to be desired. When the Baku sprint or the grand prix don’t have such a smokescreen, they’re generally accused of being boring.

The lack of drama wasn’t lost on the paddock either. Mercedes driver George Russell believes 2023 has become “less exciting”, and singled out the race in Azerbaijan as “as dull as we all expected”. Meanwhile, Pierre Gasly thinks the criticism is premature and there could be plenty of action soon. He likened it to watching a movie, saying: “If you go to the cinema, after 15 minutes the movie sucks, but the last hour and a half is great.”

Still, there is enough sample size after four full rounds to demonstrate that the spectacle of reduction was not purely accidental. Rather, it was the result of a combination of factors – with the F1-led roster achieving its goal of resetting the rulebook and making the Champions League more competitive.

A landmark shift in technical regulations for 2022 will focus on ground effect, with the aim of breaking the established order and allowing cars to follow each other more closely without excessive tire shredding and downforce expulsion of dirty air. The consensus among the drivers throughout last season was that even if Red Bull ultimately proved dominant and there were no shock winners, the latter had already been achieved.

Plus: Why F1’s new rules can’t be ruled fully successful after 2022

Twelve months on, the team’s technical departments naturally reached a consensus around the best design solution and a window to correct the aerodynamic error. This creates a competitive midfield.

In Bahrain Q1, the gap between the top 17 cars was less than 0.9 seconds. In Australia, a time of 1.6 seconds was the fastest lap ever recorded by the top 16 cars. The downside of this head-to-head battle between cars with different handling characteristics is that, arguably, the field is too close for its own good. Because the overall performance is so even, drivers don’t have enough increments to pass the car in front. This created a stalemate in the game.

Russell said: “F1 has these rules in place to help with overtaking and following and since they were introduced every team has naturally strayed from their original intentions in some way. It’s very different from what they used to be.”

Russell's sprint with Verstappen was one of the few memorable track matches in Baku

Russell’s sprint with Verstappen was one of the few memorable track matches in Baku

Photography: Simon Galloway/ motorsport pictures

In Baku, the situation was exacerbated by the shortening of the DRS zone on the main straight by 100 metres. While the FIA ​​made changes on a fair basis in 2022 where the overtaking assist proved too powerful, those changes appear to have backfired as the field converged. In addition to the aggressive Red Bulls, places into Turn 1 were in short supply.

Plus: How Baku’s sprint format change exposed F1’s biggest mistakes

The grid used driver briefings to express their concerns, but the governing body went ahead anyway and reduced Miami’s two DRS zones, which doesn’t bode well for a track that didn’t host a race last season.

Gasly noted: “Reducing the DRS zone is not going to help us see more overtaking during the season. It’s something we talked about in the driver briefing last week and I’m sure we’ll talk about it this weekend. I think we’re in favor of Keeping last year’s DRS zones, obviously won’t reduce them.”

Russell dismissed the narrow vision, saying: “I don’t think any of us really understand why they were cut short. It goes without saying.

“DRS helps with overtaking and it’s always exciting when you have these huge DRS advantages, it gives you a chance to fight. Obviously in Baku it was too short.”

Max Verstappen felt that reaching the minimum dry weight limit of 798kg also compromised the ease of overtaking. Large chunks now mean it’s a “one size fits all” situation. “These cars can be too heavy, too stiff, so you can’t really run to the side of the road and try to find a different line,” he said. It’s driving on the same line. As people find more and more downforce in the car, it can become harder to keep up as well.”

While there have been concerns that the new regulations might be too prescriptive – simply because Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes’ differing views on sidepod design help alleviate those issues – teams will naturally be looking to exploit every inch of slack in 2023. This has lured them away from the intent of the rule makers, introducing evolved aerodynamic configurations, which again make it harder for drivers to follow closely and prepare for overtaking.

Are the current teams getting too close in their design philosophy to produce a great car?

Are the current teams getting too close in their design philosophy to produce a great car?

Photography: Zak Mauger / motorsport pictures

This adds to the problem of reduced slipstream efficiency last year. With more emphasis now placed on aerodynamics under the floor than on the top surface, drivers throughout 2022 report that the car in front no longer punches such a large hole in the air. This makes it harder for them to hold onto the car trailer ahead. With this feeling still present, drivers are less able to catch up to their opponents on the straights, now have less room to deploy DRS and ultimately find it harder to negotiate corners.

The last factor that comes into play is the tires. Pirelli entered F1 in 2011 with a design brief to create capricious rubber with extreme degradation to facilitate different strategies that would enhance on-track performance. But discontent among drivers and the championship’s desire to change tack amid spectators’ dismay at emphasizing protection has prompted manufacturers to develop increasingly durable rubber. F1 has since got its wish.

All in all, leaving aside the unusually abrasive asphalt in Bahrain, there has been no appreciable level of degradation so far in a campaign of increased danger. This reduces the number of pit stops and the number of drivers blowing tires trying to get close to their opponents.

Again, hurting Baku, the early safety car gave most teams a window to complete their one-stop runs. Since then, the two sides have reached a stalemate. Alpine, meanwhile, kept Esteban Ocon on the track on his starting hard tyre, only to be released prematurely into the pit lane when he jumped in for a mandatory change on the final lap Police and photographers are welcome. The 186-mile effort before the pit stop marked the longest pit stop time managed by the C3 compound since 2015.

Ocon reckons: “We’ve done three races so far without any degradation, which makes overtaking more difficult. In Bahrain we’ve seen a lot more overtaking than in the past three, no overtaking in Australia, none in Jeddah Overtaking, no overtaking in Baku. Once there is more degradation, there will be more fighting and more fun on the track.”

Russell added: “In the past couple of races, it’s been easy to stop. It’s less exciting when everyone is giving it their all… We’ll be discussing this with the FIA ​​and F1, Because we want to be able to race, we want to be able to fight, like we do in racing – karting, there’s no aerodynamics there. So that’s the ultimate dream.

“The sport did take a turn for the better when these new cars were introduced, but we need to go a step further now.”

Can F1 turn things around in Miami after dull Baku?

Can F1 turn things around in Miami after dull Baku?

Photography: Andy Horn / motorsport pictures


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.

Also read:

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.

Continue Reading


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.

Also read:

“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.”

Continue Reading


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.

Continue Reading