Formula 2 and Formula 3 will undergo some major changes in the way their race weekend format operates this season, with the two championships now racing on separate Formula 1 weekends in 2021.
The two junior championships will share the same format, but it’s quite different to the format we’re all used to by now, which has remained unchanged for several years.
F2 will join F1 in Bahrain this weekend for its opening round, whilst F3 will have to wait until the Spanish Grand Prix in early-May for its season-opener.
Both championships will now consist of three races per event, making up for the loss of action as a result of no longer racing on the same weekend.
There will be no changes to the Friday practice and qualifying sessions, will last 45 and 30 minutes respectively.
This is where things get a little confusing… Friday’s qualifying result will form the grid for Sunday’s Feature Race in order of how the drivers finish. But that same qualifying session will also form the grid for Saturday’s Sprint Race 1, but the top 10 will be reversed, so the driver who was quickest, starts P10.
The grid for Saturday’s second Sprint Race will be taken from the result of the opening Sprint Race, but again the top 10 will be reversed.
For example: The driver that is quickest in qualifying would start P10 for Sprint Race 1. If they then finish sixth, they would then start fourth for the second Sprint Race. They would then start on pole for the Feature Race.
Both Saturday races will consist of 120 kilometres or 45 minutes, whichever comes first. Sunday’s Feature Race will last 170 kilometres or 60 minutes, again whichever comes first. The Feature Race will keep its mandatory pit stop rule.
F3 follows the same structure, but the top 12 will be reversed instead of the top 10, and all three races will last just 40 minutes.
Formula 2 CEO Bruno Michel has welcomed the change, despite some fans feeling the format didn’t need tweaking.
“It is going to be different, but I am quite happy because we have had the same format for quite a while now and it is always good to have a change. It is not that the old format didn’t work, but for obvious reasons, especially economic ones, we had to make sure that we were making the right decisions to diminish the costs for the teams. Going to fewer events was an important part of that, but if we were going to fewer events, then we had to do more races at each event.
“Having three races per event is going to be different and I am anticipating interesting fights and very interesting weekends. It is going to be a bit of a headache for teams and engineers, that’s for sure. They will need to try and figure out the right strategies and that is something that will be good because it’s never good to always use the same systems. The changes will give them something new to think about.”
Securing pole position on Saturday will be worth four bonus points, this remains unchanged.
Sprint Race 1 and Sprint Race 2’s top 8 finishers will be awarded points (15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1) while the top 10 finishers of the Feature Race will score (25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1).
Two points will be awarded to the driver who sets the fastest lap in each race. Any driver who is not classified in the top ten positions at the end of the race will not be eligible for points awarded for fastest lap.
The maximum of points that a driver can score over a race weekend has been increased from 48 to 65.
F2 will have eight race weekends across the 2021 season with five flyaway events and three European races. F3 has one fewer round at seven, with just one of those, the United States, a flyaway.
“There will more or less be one event per month and most of the teams are doing F2 and F3, so this is quite good for them,” added Michel. “The calendar is quite well balanced with three rounds in Europe and five flyaways and I think that it’s going to work very well.
The teams will have time after each race to dissect everything and work again to improve and get the best out of the cars in the following round. They will not have to work with the back-to-back-to-back races that we have had in the past, which I know drove them completely crazy. This will help to improve both reliability and safety.”