FIA feared it would “run out of luck” with standing starts in F2

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The FIA feared it would “run out of luck” if it did not use rolling starts for last weekend’s F2 races following the repeated problems drivers have experienced with cars stalling.

Race director Charlie Whiting explained why the championship imposed the use of Safety Car starts instead of rolling starts at the Red Bull Ring last weekend.

“We know there was a clearly identified problem,” he told media including RaceFans. “The F2 guys are not confident they can fix it before a date the break after Silverstone.”

Many drivers stalled the new-for-2018 cars in the opening 10 races of the season. Several attempts to fix the fault have been made without success.

The organisers announced on Friday before last weekend’s event that rolling starts would be used at the Red Bull Ring and the upcoming races at Silverstone. They cited a lack of time to fix the problem during the current run of three consecutive race weekends.

Whiting said the use of rolling starts was “not ideal if you like watching a standing start” but said it didn’t detract from the racing.

He also denied the change was a reaction to the huge crash involving Dan Ticktum and Ameya Vaidyanathan in a Formula Three race at the Norisring the previous weekend (below).

“It’s nothing to do with the accident we saw in Norisring,” said Whiting. “It’s all about what we saw at Paul Ricard. Three cars each time stalled at the beginning of the race.

“And I just didn’t want to run out of luck. That’s really what it is. If there had been an accident you could argue it would be difficult to actually defend [having a standing start] because we know there’s a problem and the drivers tell us it’s very difficult.

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“You saw in the first race drivers were finding it hard to get away from the pit stop. when they all came in when the Safety Car was out. That’s what caused a bit of a kerfuffle in the pit lane because they had to be very careful. And you can’t do that at the start of the race, you’ve got to go for it.

Start, F2, sprint race, Baku, 2018
Drivers have been stalling in F2 races all year
“Of course some drivers were not very happy. They felt that they’d worked hard on their starts, et cetera. But a lot of them said it was the right thing to do.”

Whiting added he intends to review the procedure for approving technical changes in the former GP2 series, which the FIA took over in 2017.

“As you know it’s a little bit different because we inherited the whole infrastructure once it became Formula Two,” he explained.

“I think we might need to review how we go about getting the technical things sorted out because it’s taken a little while. I think we’ve got to have a good look at that.

“It’s a brand new car, brand new engine, I get that, with limited amounts of testing. But still it’s dragging on a little longer than we would like.”

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9 comments on “FIA feared it would “run out of luck” with standing starts in F2”

  1. They should try their best to eliminate any element of luck in Formula 2. Make the cars as reliable as possible.

    F2 should be an accurate indicator of which young drivers are good enough to make it in F1, not a lottery.

  2. To be fair, the FIA ‘inherited’ the championship which had previously been a series fully owned by FOM and rebranded as F2. These regs were in place by then already. Of course it should be safe and trouble-free, but the FIA had little or no input into it.

  3. I much prefer rolling starts to having 3 random people getting stalls. Especially when it detracts from the championship battle. It is a pretty silly problem to have, and I’m surprised they haven’t fixed it. Do they even know exactly where the issue lies? Or just ‘somewhere within the clutch system’

    1. @hugh11
      He mentions a ‘clearly identified problem’, so I think they know exactly what it is. But as always, these kinds of issues tend to be very complicated and thus not quick to fix at all. I suspect it’s not really a matter of something going wrong in a very obvious way, but rather an adverse combination of parameters that turned out to be more likely than is considered acceptable.
      Stalling the car should be a real possibility if the driver makes a mistake, however several stalled car in every start are clearly too many. This continuum shows why fixing such a problem is so difficult.

    2. @hugh11, it seems to have been partially worked out – the indication is that there are multiple factors, including an overly sensitive clutch with insufficient travel for the clutch level to allow for more accurate modulation of the clutch, resulting in drivers either bogging down or having excessive clutch slippage and problems with the anti-stall mechanism not cutting in quickly enough to prevent the engine stalling and with the mapping for controlling the movement of the clutch.

      Mind you, some current drivers, such as Louis Delétraz, have suggested that the drivers and teams are not without blame themselves. He has suggested that the new clutch really isn’t that much different to the previous system and that some drivers and teams are “trying silly things or doing mistakes” and then shifting the blame onto the clutch systems when they stall, rather than accepting that they may be in part to blame.

      Bruno Michel has said that, when he suggested having rolling starts, there were several drivers who went up to him and complained that he shouldn’t be helping out drivers who are being sloppy with their race starts. Driver error by inexperienced drivers may also be another factor, particularly in smaller teams where they have fewer resources to practise and refine their starts, although that is perhaps a more contentious suggestion.

  4. Just curious…When was the last time an F1 stalled?

    1. 2015 Singapore GP, Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso).
      There may be more recent examples, but that’s the one I remember.

  5. Peter Gareth
    3rd July 2018, 14:55

    The only thing I didn’t like about the rolling starts as used this past weekend was that they were safety car/single file restarts which were super boring.

    If they need to use rolling starts for a bit then they should maybe look at indycar style double file one’s because they way they did it over the austria weekend was frankly rubbish.

  6. “… with limited amount of testing…”

    And why is that? With a new engine for the series, thorough testing is absolutely vital.
    Otherwise you may get problems like malfunctioning clutches or poor mapping which could mean problems at the start. Was it worth it to save a few quid?

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