Axed triple-header F2 and F3 format was “not easy to understand”

Formula 2

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The triple-header header format introduced for Formula 1’s two most prominent support series created confusion, the series promoter admitted after it was dropped within a year of being introduced.

Formula 2 and Formula 3 will revert to their familiar double-header format in 2021 having each run three races at separate rounds throughout this year.

The plan to run the two series at separate grands prix this year, and add a further sprint race with a partial reversed grid, was not as successful as hoped, admitted CEO Bruno Michel. As well as the complicated new format, F2 has had long gaps between consecutive rounds. Its next round in Saudi Arabia will follow 10 weeks after the previous event.

“We put up this new format because we wanted to try to simplify the cost issues because we knew 2021 was going to be a difficult season,” Michel explained.

“But we also noticed that there were too much time between the races and that by doing that, we were losing a little bit of the excitement. So if you talk about the fans, obviously there was an issue and for the teams as well and for the drivers as well, there was too much time.

“Also the format, which worked very well on the track, was not so easy to understand. So that’s another thing that we want to simplify as well.”

Michel and Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali are eager to reunite F2 and F3 on the same weekends next year. This only happened once this season, in Sochi last week, after F3’s season finale had to be moved from the Circuit of the Americas due to logistical reasons.

“There’s a very strong will of everybody to have the all the pyramid present as much as possible on the same weekend, F1, F2 and F3,” said Michel. “That gives a very, very strong push for the two categories that are becoming really strategic to the system now.

“So there will be a lot of benefits for everybody to do that. It will not be on all the races, but it will be on most of the races that we will have F1, F2 and F3 together.”

The dropped 2021 format received mixed feedback from teams and drivers, said Michel. “Some teams said that they could save some costs. Some of the teams said that it was not so obvious because they did not really mutualise personal between the two categories.

“We also heard the drivers and some drivers were very positive, some others were a little bit more confused. So we took into consideration all this information to decide what we were going to do for this season.”

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25 comments on “Axed triple-header F2 and F3 format was “not easy to understand””

  1. I think we should also do the same to the main category. Multiple triple headers in one year are just exhausting for the teams. I get it that it is fun and entertaining to have many races, but 3 races in 3 weekends feels just too much for the teams.

    1. @krichelle, I agree. For example, two or three fewer weekends would help achieve this or shifting some races around.

      1. @jerejj What if they reduced the summer break to 3 weeks and still maintained the mandatory 2 week shut down period. This would remove one triple header already (Spa-Zandvoort-Monza), or a further one down the line, as I assume the triple header immediately after the summer break isn’t the worst one given the proximity of all the tracks to each other and the teams’ bases.

        1. @mashiat, I doubt teams would be keen on reducing the summer break.
          One triple-header would get removed merely by pairing Miami and Montreal before Spain-Monaco, although the two post-break ones would remain.

    2. @krichelle You’re thinking of different triple headers. This isn’t about three race weekends in a row, but three races in a weekend per class, which resulted in F2 and F3 not particpating on the same venues.

  2. I think I’d like a transfer window as well that will be open around August time for a few weeks and f1 teams can then sign f2 drivers for the next season. The annoying thing this year was that teams made a decision before f2 was anywhere near concluding the season

    1. @djarvis F1 teams aren’t obligated to wait with their driver choices until an F2 season has ended.

    2. @djarvis I think that’s more damming of F2’s calendar than of anything F1 does. F2 ending in mid-December this year would adversely impact any F2 driver who’s waiting on Superlicense points to be in with a chance of an F1 seat.
      Hopefully next year their season ends in October-ish and it becomes less of an issue.

      1. Did not effect the current F2 championship leader who had enough SL points before the F2 even started.

        1. @ciaran Alex, that’s a mute point as this has been an issue in previous seasons and most likely in future seasons. Your only speaking about one driver. This issue typically doesn’t apply to the F2 winner but drivers further down the rankings that F1 teams are interested in.

          I agree, I like the idea of F2 finishing before F1 season. Plus if they want to keep the cost down, they should stick to more European tracks and lower the amount of traveling teams have to do in the late fall and winter; the costs are extreme for F2 to do those.

        2. I had assumed the baffling three-race format was influenced by the need to get the necessary number of races in despite pandemic-related disruptions. What I wish they’d realise is that a field of 30 is crazy in F3. Drivers paying £££££s lose a whole weekend if they have a shunt or lose an engine on day one and can almost never recover by coming through duh a large field. Amazing that there has been a steady flow of entrants with the cash to keep both series healthy for so long.

  3. A shame there is visibly no place for W series in all this. At most it will be pushed here and there, and not even aired on F1TV which is absolutely baffling.

    It’s the same at my workplace, a national television – I had to push to get a vaguely decent exposure for the W series assets we received for free this year. It’s so badly explained and covered that audiences are low, and it will be dropped next year if we have to pay for it.

    A passionated colleague of mine also pushed to get Sarah Bovy who drove in the series as co-presenter, and she’s doing well so hopefully it will get better audiences at some point.

    But still a long way to go in everybody’s mind before W series is legitimated in motorsport, which is surprising because battles are good and it’s nice to watch.

    1. and not even aired on F1TV which is absolutely baffling.

      @spoutnik W Series isn’t aired on F1TV as F1 don’t own the rights to the series or it’s TV distribution.

      FOM do produce the worldfeed broadcast for W series but they don’t hold any rights over it with W series doing there own TV deals as well as streaming races live on there own social media platforms (In regions where no TV deals exist).

      Same reason you don’t see other local support categories aired on F1TV. F1TV will only feature content that F1 own the distribution rights to.

      1. @gt-racer True that it does not hold the rights – but we don’t either and yet got it for free, such is their desire of exposure. I’m quite sure though W series would gladly feature on F1TV for a more than reasonable price, enabling F1 to pursue the effort. It’s become a world championship after all and a bit more exposure would do much good I think.

    2. @spoutnik On the contrary, a 23-race schedule like F1 wants to have for 2022 offers a lot of opportunity for W Series to be on the calendar. In fact, this means that on the rounds where it features, it’ll become the primary support series instead of second behind whichever F2/F3 round is ahead of it.

      Whisper TV has the rights to W Series, rather than Liberty or any of the other companies associated directly with F1.

      1. Whisper TV also produce the F1 shows for UK Channel 4, who also have UK-exclusive rights for the W Series

  4. How could anyone find this year’s F2/F3 format confusing or difficult to understand?
    Surely the only way to not understand it is to not even try to.

    I thought this year’s system was okay at each event with 3 races (although session times could be improved) – the only major problem being that there weren’t enough actual events for each series to race at.
    Ideally, I’d like to see 12 – 15 events for each – even if that means doing some ‘local’ European rounds on their own when F1 is away on another continent. F2 and F3 blasting around some wonderful Grade 2 circuits would be excellent to watch.

    1. The reason F2/F3 don’t like doing events away from F1 is because they usually end up losing money when doing so as they are having to pay for things they usually don’t have to worry about when supporting F1.

      Additionally when they have done stand-alone events in the past they have drawn a significantly smaller crowd & ended up with a smaller TV audience.

      1. They could quite easily slot their TV broadcast in between F1 sessions (as if they were still at the same venue) so not losing any TV audience.
        More events means more TV time, which means more exposure for sponsors. One of the key things against this years format was that the cars weren’t visible for so many weeks at a time…

        1. That may help with the TV but it still wouldn’t solve the lack of fans actually attending the venue. Every time GP2/F2 tried to run events away from F1 hardly anybody turned up. Even when they ran alongside WEC the stands were empty for the F2 running. And if your partnering with another series to run elsewhere on an F1 weekend like they did with WEC in the past you have to run around there schedule rather than whatever F1 are doing. Likewise if F2/F3 is running in Europe while F1 is somewhere else the time zones are always going to match up to allow them to do it.

          And again that is the money loss because they are having to rent the circuit, hotels, hospitality, Timing/Tracking equipment, Race officials & Somebody to produce the broadcast with the required equipment to get the live feed & timing data to all broadcasters who needs it.

          There was originally a plan to have GP2 run stand-alone events much as F3000 once did. However whenever they tried it be it the main GP2 series or GP2 Asia & subsequently with F2/F3 it’s never proven a draw & has also resulted in financial losses for both the series officials & teams which is why it’s something they only do under exceptional circumstances. It’s simply not viable for them, If it was they would do it.

          1. I’d suggest the biggest reason that people aren’t turning up at the track to watch F2/F3 is because they are always considered second-rate to F1 – as though they only exist to support F1. If they were a standalone product, they’d get more airtime and coverage.
            Few attend an Indycar race for Indy Lights. Few attend a Super Formula race for SFLights.
            Yet both of those cars are effectively the technical equivalent of F2 – they are just the headline act of their respective series. The Lights categories are essentially equivalent to F3 cars, if not actual F3 class.
            Pretty comparable, you’d have to agree.
            People are always more inclined to be interested in watching the headline act, and less so the support act – even if that support act is a headliner elsewhere.

            I’m quite sure some decent marketing, sponsorship and broadcast deals could make it financially viable if they wanted it to be. They just need to stop calling them F1’s junior categories.

    2. Mostly agree with you!
      But if I really “have to try to” understand the format, there is something wrong. It’s just too many of the same races in a weekend, at odd hours, with insane grid determination sequences.

      And this is coming from someone who just about thinks GP2 is the best racing series ever, and rates F2 generally as being higher quality than F1 these past few years. The 3 races per weekend, few races per year, just sucks. Great to see it scrapped.

  5. Should never have been there…ever.

  6. Just what is it that’s not easy to understand? I’ve really enjoyed watching the new format, and although it admittedly reduces the number of different venues that drivers have exposure to, it’s full of action and excitement, although that’s not something that was lacking in F2 and F3 previously. I’ll definitely be sorry to see the new format go.

  7. 2 sprints vs 1 main race was meh, the influence sprint1 has on sprint 2 was even more meh, but the race timings were utterly ridiculous. Saturday morning at early o’clock and then complaining we need SQ to spice up weekends?!

    I almost forgot about the F2 season with months between races. If you want 3 races, use the old F3 format that travelled with (usually) DTM. They had 3 seperate qualifying sessions for the 3 races, so everyone started their position on merit. Reverse races… get rid of it.

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