Home Featured Paddock round-up: An F2 shake-up and a surprise race revival

Paddock round-up: An F2 shake-up and a surprise race revival

by Formula Scout

Photo: Formula Motorsport Limited

Formula Scout was active in Sochi (virtually), Monza and Valencia last weekend where, as plans for 2022 start to be formulated, several surprising stories emerged in the junior single-seater paddocks
HWA to leave Formula 2

Early last week, unsourced reports proliferated internet forums stating that HWA Racelab was to depart Formula 2 and Formula 3, and that an announcement of who would take over its assets would be imminent.

This ignored the fact that ultimately it’s Bruno Michel, the chief executive officer of those two series, who decides who gets the licenses to field cars in his championships and that there would be no point selling on assets to teams yet to get the approval to enter from him. Previously he had also said the deadline for registering interest in entering for the next three-year cycle would be the end of September or later, which is still in the future.

Van Amersfoort Racing was named by some as the buyer of HWA’s cars, but when Formula Scout spoke to several senior figures at the team – currently competing in Euroformula and Formula Regional European Championship – they staunchly denied the idea a deal had been done, but admitted they had previously tried to join the FIA F3 Championship including when the series was first created in 2019 and VAR’s previous home, the FIA European F3 championship, was brought to an end.

Further examination revealed that negotiations had previously taken place with HWA regarding its F3 cars, but that was several months ago and any plans then had since regressed.

Later during the weekend, after the story seemed to have been killed off, the rumour picked up again with a paddock “prediction” that VAR was planning a 2022 entry into F2 and F3 via the purchasing of HWA’s assets, and that the family of former Formula 1 racer Charles Pic was now targeting a similar strategy via the takeover of the DAMS F2 team and to buy F3 cars from Charouz Racing System.

Photo: CAP Racing

Pic’s French company CAP Racing (which has ties with Campos Racing’s former technical director Philippe Gautheron and his Spanish sportscar squad Team Virage) has already bought into M2 Competition, when its European operations relocated to Spain last year, and plans to race in the Formula Regional European Championship with those cars in the future.

Driver coaches were also talking about their 2022 plans with the understanding that HWA seats would not be an option, and Formula Scout reached out to HWA and DAMS for comment.

F2 calendar to be revealed in October

The provisional 2022 calendars for F2 and F3 are set to be revealed at the next FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting in Paris on October 15, with an anticipated 13 grands prix where either championship will be in support.

For next season both series will revert to two-race formats, and will also share the support paddock for several rounds after splitting their calendars this year. There is no draft F1 calendar yet, but the British Grand Prix is confirmed to take place on July 1-3 and it’s safe to assume that F2 and F3 will be racing there on that weekend.

The strict lockdown currently taking place in Melbourne is putting the Australian Grand Prix (believed to be penned for an April date) under threat according to local sources, and a replacement race would most likely take place in Europe and offer another opportunity for F1’s feeder series to join. However F1’s provisional calendar is all but guaranteed to include Australia.

Belgrade GP revival pitched

A surprise plan to revive the Belgrade Grand Prix, which ran just once in 1939 on the same day Britain announced it was at war with Adolf Hitler’s Germany, has emerged.

The plan is for the city, which sat in Yugoslavia last century and is now the capital of Serbia, to open up its streets again to racing cars for a weekend.

The ambitious plan was pitched in the Monza paddock over the weekend, with GT Open and the Euroformula as the most recent target series for the event, and the plans are backed by a former IndyCar racer and a Serbian motorsport figure. While it is still in the concept stage, the individuals involved have long-standing links to Serbia’s automobile federation.

Hauger lap deletion gives Leclerc FL points

Newly-crowned FIA F3 champion Dennis Hauger was spun around by HWA’s Oliver Rasmussen in the final race of the season at Sochi. While Rasmussen got a penalty for causing the collision, Hauger too came under grief from the stewards.

Hauger went on to set the fastest lap after changing all four tyres, taking it and the bonus points away from Trident’s Clement Novalak as they fought each other for the teams’ title. That is not permitted by the regulations, so Hauger had a 30-second time penalty added to his race time in lieu of a stop-go penalty, and all of his laptimes post-pitstop were deleted. This gave team-mate Arthur Leclerc the fastest lap instead, and the two points that come with it, to reduce Trident’s advantage to four points at season-end.

“Having considered the matter extensively, the stewards examined video evidence, summoned and heard from the driver and team representative (Document 53), and heard from the technical delegate,” read the stewards’ report. “They determined that car #1 pitted and changed all four tyres several laps after having spun during an incident at turn seven. The driver reported vibrations in the car and ultimately decided to pit as a precautionary measure. The team, in the interest of time and keeping the car on the lead lap, made the decision to change all four tyres, rather than examining them for damage.

“The technical delegate examined the tyres after they were removed and found no evidence of damage. The stewards closely looked at in-car video from the car and found no evidence of damage on the front tyres and also did not see evidence of severe vibration in the steering wheel. Accordingly, the stewards find that the tyre change did not meet the grounds set by the regulations, in that no ‘clear and genuine safety reason’ was found, nor did inspection of the tyres find a ‘punctured or damaged tyre’.”

Carrasquedo eyeing up FREC

Danish Formula 4 race-winner and 14-year-old protege of Campos Racing and Sergio Perez, Jesse Carrasquedo Jr, was talking to FREC teams at Valencia’s Ricardo Tormo circuit last weekend.

The Mexican has contested two Danish F4 rounds this year, winning on his first ever appearance, and also tested with BVM Racing in Italian F4 alongside his karting commitments in Europe as a factory Parolin driver. Upon turning 15 next year he’s anticipated to be moving to Spanish F4, but may be figuring out a way of doing FREC as a guest driver before he’s old enough to compete for points in the series in 2023.

F3’s target customers praise 2022 format

The announcement that FIA F3 would revert back to a two-race format for 2022 (with the reversed grid race still preceding the one that uses the qualifying order) was met warmly by drivers in FREC, the FIA’s intended primary feeder series to F3.

ART Grand Prix’s championship leader Gregoire Saucy said to Formula Scout: “I think it’s better. Two races with reversed grid, it’s not good because if you are P1 in qualifying and you are fast, you need to be at the top. I know now it will be good. Only one race with reversed grid can be good.”

His team-mates were held differing opinions, with Gabriele Mini believing “the format could help some drivers that didn’t have the best of qualifyings to reach a podium or to reach some good points for race one”, while Patrik Pasma preferred the three-race format because it had “less waiting and more driving for the weekend”.

Photo: FRECA

Mini also added: “If it’s a good weekend where the car works, for sure you would push more for the three races. If it’s a weekend where you are struggling a bit with pace, you would prefer two races. So, it’s all weekend depending.”

R-ace GP’s Zane Maloney said “it can only be a positive thing” as he speculated abut an increased number of rounds, and his team-mate Hadrien David thought similar, and pointed out it “is always a very good atmosphere” when lower series join F2 on F1’s support bill.

Isack Hadjar was more forthright, stating: “I think it will help the guys who perform well in qualifying. I mean two reversed grids in a row is bullshit for me. The format they are proposing for next year, it’s very good.”

Prema’s drivers Paul Aron and David Vidales were in unison, with Aron saying the format change “gives much more variety to the championship” as there are more opportunities for different teams to shine if the number of rounds increases, but it will also show “a lot more who is actually dominating the championship” and will mean drivers will be “more on the limit, showing their true potential” on Saturday now it won’t impact their starting position for the next race.

A greater onus on qualifying means increased risk though, countered G4 Racing’s Michael Belov, although he had no preference between the 2021 and ’22 formats, and MP Motorsport’s Franco Colapinto said it would now be less unfair on the fastest drivers.

Compiled by Alejandro Alonso Lopez and Ida Wood