Although Dallara’s name will adorn the next F2 chassis, the car is firmly instilled in FIA ideas from a design brief using learnings from F1’s current technical regulations yet also bringing it closer to lower categories
The usual procedure for providing a spec part to an FIA series goes to a tendering proccess, but that was slightly different when it came to determing the technical qualities of Formula 2 for 2024 and beyond. Specifically there was no invitation to tender for chassis supply, or if there was then the FIA did not want to comment on why that was done in secret when asked about the matter by Formula Scout.
The FIA did publish an invite to tender for engine supply, with the requirement that the engine could run on Aramco’s 55% mix sustainable synthetic fuel. French manufacturer Mecachrome won that contract, with its next design being an evolution of its current turbocharged 3.4-litre V6 engine, which has been used for six seasons in the Dallara F2 2018. Both the new chassis and engine will be used for the next six seasons, with a supply to 22 cars as F2 retains its 11-team paddock structure. Each team will get their first car this December, and the second will be delivered in January. At the end of that month, teams will be allowed to shake down one of the two chassis that have been received.
Tatiana Calderon has been responsible so far for doing development testing of the Dallara F2 2024. Dallara has exclusively supplied the chassis for the F2 championship since its creation (with F2 previously having been a category rather than a spec series), and its predecessor GP2 before that. When the car was unveiled four weeks ago at the Italian Grand Prix, it was the FIA rather than the manufacturer doing the talking about the design of the car that will be introduced to F2 next season.
Visually it has many similarities to the cars designed for the current Formula 1 rule cycle, which began in 2022, and Super Formula’s Dallara SF23 car. It turns out only some of those similarities were deliberate, and the FIA wanted to avoid some characteristics of recent F1 cars such as porpoising or heavy steering.
“We were very conscious of [porpoising] when we got into the specification of this car, but just at the time we were laying out the requirements of the car with the promoter,” said FIA technical director Tim Goss of the Dallara F2 2024.
“In determining the specification of the car and what we wanted to achieve, in improved car following, then we made sure that whilst we’re moving to more ground effects, we weren’t overdriving the floor, we weren’t putting too many demands on the floor. So it was really quite important to us that in terms of the aerodynamics of the car, that the solution was one which generated downforce in the car higher, at higher rideheights, so there wasn’t the need to drive the set-up ever lower and get into porposing problems.
“And also just make sure that we didn’t put too much load into the car, and into the floor, and kept a reasonable amount of load in the wings.”
“The 2022 F1 car did make a significant step forward in terms of how closely the cars can follow through a corner. And that was through a lot of attention to detail on two things: the amount of wake, well the shape of the wake that’s generated from the back of a F1 car, but also how the front of the F1 car deals with disturbed flow.
“And what we took as a starting point for the F2 car was the FIA developed a F1 baseline. The actual code name of the car was Uniform, and we morphed that into a F2-sized car with F2-sized tyres, etc. and used that as a baseline. But then what we had to do was we couldn’t just take that as the car to take forward, we had to respect the performance figures that we were aiming for in F2, and also the fact that we have to take complexity out of the car and try and keep the costs down.
“So the brief that was given to the car supplier, which is Dallara, was the features on the car that were important for car following, and the techniques that we used in CFD to look at the performance of car following and the performance of one car following another. And the downforce levels for the following car. We passed all of those, that knowledge and experience on components and features that were important onto [Dallara]. What we were looking for in terms of the wake behind the car, what we’re looking for in terms of the front wing performance especially, and some of the other devices around some of the front of the car to stop losing front end [grip].
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“Dallara went off and took all of that as a brief and guidance, and designed the car around that. It has delivered, and there’s been a sort of an iterative process to some extent. We’ve had the final car design passed back to us at the FIA to check it over and it really has delivered in terms of the following performance. So that process seems to have been very, very effective.
“Regarding the DRS, it’s more a case of what we were looking for was the size of DRS delta. You need to make sure that you’ve got enough authority. It’s easy to turn DRS down. You can do that with zone lengths, the number of zones, things like that. But you really just have to make sure you have enough authority. And to be honest, one of the biggest challenges with the rear of the car and the rear wing was putting a F1-style rear wing on with the rollled tips, the rolled edges – which are good for the wake performance – whilst keeping the cost and simplicity in the rear wing. So keeping cost out of it, obviously.
“So what Dallara have come up with I think is a fantastic solution in terms of delivering the required wake performance, great aesthetics, and something that delivers the DRS. So hats off to them really.”
The huge rear wing on the new F2 car immediately brings to mind images of the Dallara SF23. But series technical director Didier Perrin says that had no influence on F2’s design.
“Well, the physics applies everywhere, so I’m not surprised that with the same challenge, some of our engineers end up with the same kind of solution. But basically we didn’t look at the design of Super Formula. We worked alongside with the aerodynamicist from the FIA, which had the experience of F1. And then, as we are a single-make formula, we had the possibility to get a bit more freedom to impose a design that was really focussed on shaping the wake behind the car to make the air cleaner for the following car. So no, we didn’t look at it and we haven’t been inspired by the Super Formula. We followed the experience and the work made by the FIA on the F1 2022 design.”
Aside from avoiding porpoising and improving the aerodynamic profile of the car to make for better racing when cars are close together, the FIA also pushed for improved safety and incluvisity aspects with the new chassis. Corrado Casiraghi, the FIA’s senior research engineer, found incorporating that into the design “quite challenging”.
“[We are] trying to have more inclusive ergonomics. So having a car and a cockpit which is suitable and adjustable to accommodate driver from a 1.5 metres up to almost 2.08m, which is quite a challenge for a chassis manufacturer because they have to make a lot of adaptable stuff in the cockpit area,” Casiraghi explained.
“And on top of it we also went through some of the biomechanics and trying to ensure that the steering effort which is required to the driver is controlled under a certain range, which is achievable by let’s say an average fit driver. Just to give you some numbers, I’m not sure if it’s meaning a lot to anyone that is not going to the gymn, but the steering effort now is limited to 10 newton-metres [of torque], so you have to apply 10N⋅m every one G lateral force. So it’s the metrics that we establish to make the car more easy to be driven by not that fit and strong drivers.”
Goss added: “What we just established with all the research we did, it became very clear to us what the target needed to be in terms of limiting steering load. And then the challenge was how to do that mechanically without losing the feel and feedback that you require. And through the rest of formulae, so Formula 4, Formula Regional, it’s a bit easier because the loads aren’t as high as in F2.
“It’s been a challenge. But in terms of playing around with the trial car, all those sorts of things, then it’s possible to find a solution that gives sufficient feedback to the driver but produces the load that we’re looking for. And I think what should be appreciated is that what we looking at and through the progression of the pyramid of cars, starting at F4, through FRegional, F2, is that we want to make sure that especially in the lower formulas, then nobody is disadvantaged.
“And as the drivers mature, as they get a bit older and they get stronger as they turn into better athletes, then steering load can increase a little bit as the car performance increases going up through the pyramid. So as the corner forces, the cornering speeds go up, and lateral accelerations go up, the steering does come up alongside. But what was clear to us was we’ve got to set a limit on the gain, and that seems to be quite effective. And then it’s that gain that affects the steering design.
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“We’ve been working on it for a couple of years, it’s generated a lot of attention, but I think we’ve got a good grip on it and I think what we’ve done recently with this F2 car demonstrates there’s a perfectly good viable solution up there for a F2 car.”
Casiraghi expanded on the safety improvements made in the F2 2024 compared to the F2 2018.
“On the pure safety aspect, as usual at the FIA we learned the lesson from the previous year,” he said. “So in between the last generation and this generation, a lot of lessons have been learned and found in racing. Last but not least, worth mentioning is the rollhoop. We learned the lesson in Silverstone last year with F1, and we applied right in time to this generation the load and the concept that the findings that we have found in the accident that we have seen [Zhou Guanyu] rolling over in Silverstone.
“Other major updates are in general a quite big increase in the energy absorption of the safety structure. So the nose box now is capable of slowing down the car to accept a sustained higher impact speed. So in case of higher impact speed, the nose box will slow the car without harming the driver. And it’s also capable of having a higher angle. So the impact angle is wider than before. You can impact up to more than 20° angle to a wall and the nose will not be ripped off from the car.
“Several improvements has been done as well on the intrusion protection. A major one which has been deployed recently to F1 as well is the side wall strength. So in case you experience what we call a T-Bone accident, so a car crashing sideways on another car, the strength of the side wall has massively increased compared to the last generation.”
The Dallara F2 2024 is expected to be a similar weight to the F2 2018 (so around 755kg including the driver), and running an evolution of the current engine means similar power too. The large rear wing will generate more downforce, so laptimes should be faster in qualifying next year. Teams are allowed to run their maximum downforce levels in those sessions, while F2 sets the wing angle for races to reduce downforce. That is done with the intention of lengthening braking zones and promoting more side-by-side action.
The FIA wants to lead F2 teams down a set-up direction that prevents them from repeating what F1 teams did early in 2022 by running their cars as low and as stiff as possible. But engineers in F1 did not just change set-ups, but also changed their car designs for 2023 with more intricate floor shaping to direct air differently. Goss has watched them do that, and “kind of bundled into the F2 car” those technical solutions.
Then for 2025, some of those ideas could make their way into FIA Formula 3 as that championship switches to a new chassis after six seasons using the Dallara F3 2019.
“The experience that we’ve had here with doing this F2 car, we’re going to take all that learning through in to F3,” said Goss.
“So don’t be surprised if the second-generation F3 takes lot of cues from this F2 car. It’s targeted at the next step down in terms of performance. So we have to bear those things in mind. But again, what we’re trying to do is is take all the lessons learned from F1 and F2 to provide great racing. That’s the target.”