F2 will make sure new 2024 car “is not going to be an issue for female drivers”

Formula 2

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Formula 2’s new chassis for 2024 will be designed to better suit female racing drivers as well as males, the series’ CEO Bruno Michel has confirmed.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem told media last month that future junior single-seater cars “had to accommodate” for the physical differences between men and women. Michel told media including RaceFans work is already underway with FIA technical figures to meet that goal.

“We are taking that very seriously, of course, and especially because it’s coming from Ben Sulayem,” Michel said.

Some female racing drivers have described F1 cars as being easier to handle than the machines used in support series because the top-flight machines have power steering. Tatiana Calderon, who returned to F2 this year, is among those to have made that observation.

Tatiana Calderon, Sauber, Circuit of the Americas, 2018
Report: F1 car feels more comfortable than F2 or GP3 – Calderon
W Series champion Jamie Chadwick has voiced concerns about the physicality of high-level single-seater cars and found it difficult to use a standard steering rack in Formula Regional whenever W Series’ lighter one was not in place, to the point where it had “scared me off ever struggling physically in a car”.

But Michel is now “working very closely with the FIA” on the next cars for F2 and for Formula 3 – the latter due in 2025 – and says power steering “of course, is something that we’re looking into” if it can viably be incorporated while meeting other design targets.

There are no women among the current roster of drivers F2 calls upon to drive its development car, and who would likely be responsible for the first on-track testing of the upcoming new design.

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“We will see what we have to do in regards of the conclusions that we will make on this new car,” Michel continued. “We know that we need to make sure that it’s not going to be an issue for female drivers, for sure. That’s the whole idea of what we are doing.

Calderon returned to Formula 2 this year
“But on the other end, we don’t want to complex-ify the car if we don’t need to do it. So it’s always something, it’s a tricky one. But we’ll make the right decision and, as I said, we will make the decision with the FIA.”

Costs will influence whether F2 deems power steering suitable to add to its cars. Other elements of car design are a priority for the series’ operating company Formula Motorsport Limited to ensure teams will want to purchase the package and can run at a sustainable cost level. There is also an onus on maintaining the series’ relevance to modern Formula 1 cars.

“It’s always what we’re trying to do, because we used to develop one car every three years, and for economic reasons we’ve developed this one, for instance, for six years,” Michel explained. “So it’s a quite dated car. Now what are you expecting from a car after the F2 level?”

Michel has three key design considerations for F2’s next chassis, beginning with “a car that fits all the safety standards that the FIA is developing.

“That’s something that, of course, is going to be different in the new car, because the safety devices that the FIA was asking for six years ago are not the same as the one that we’re having now. So that would be, number one, a very strong change.

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“You want a car that prepare drivers to F1. So if there are new things that F1 is putting together on their car and that is making a change, of course you need to try to see if we can adapt them on the F2 cars as well.

New F2 car ‘mustn’t be an issue for female drivers’ – Michel
“And you want a car that is going to provide great racing, because that’s also the DNA of our categories. And I must say that on that we’ve been doing quite well, but we can always improve ourselves.

“We’ve been working for the 2024 car with the aerodynamicists of the FIA, who have been working on the F1 car to see if there are things that we can take on the findings they made. Especially how much downforce you lose when you follow up another car. It’s these kind of things that we’ve been working on quite a bit.”

In addition to design cues that dictate performance, “we need to make a car that looks more like a F1 car”, Michel noted, as “the car we have now is quite far away in terms of aesthetic from a F1 car.”

During the series’ previous era as GP2, the chassis from Dallara mirrored F1’s design trends. The current car’s predecessor, introduced in 2011, featured a high nosecone and a shark fin engine cover similar to those seen on F1 cars at the time. F1 introduced DRS the same year, which GP2 eventually added to its car in 2015.

F2’s current car was introduced in 2018 and included a turbo-powered engine, as turbos had returned to F1 in 2014. The halo cockpit protection device was also added, at the same time as it was introduced to F1 cars.

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However Michel stressed the overwhelming concern for the championship is to keep costs under control.

F2 teams are eager to keep costs down
“Lastly, which is probably the most important, we have to make the car that is not going to cost a fortune,” he said. “And that’s the big difficulty that we have, because everything I said before is additional costs, and we need on the other end to make sure that we are not going to suddenly kill the teams because they will have to buy a car that is worth much, much more money than they were doing in the past.

“So we need to be very careful about that, not only the car itself, but all the spare parts that they will have to buy during the life of the car.

“We need to be sure that we’re making things simple. We need to be sure that when they have an issue, they can change a little part of the car and not a big one. We need to be sure that the car can be operable by a limited number of people, because we have only 12 operating people in F2, so we need to be sure that the car is operable by 12 operating people.

“That’s why when you’re talking about power steering, when you’re talking about other things, we need to be sure that we can continue to do that at the same level of expenses that we have now, because at the end who’s going to pay for that, it’s the drivers. And that’s something we need to be very careful.”

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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15 comments on “F2 will make sure new 2024 car “is not going to be an issue for female drivers””

  1. This headline could fire all those comment sections. On the other hand women need one michael schumacher to open the roads again to F1. We have seen in likes of Michele Mouton women can beat men in top class motorsport but still in this day WRC and F1 are still from different planets. Anybody (or almost anyone) can buy a Rally1 puma but imagine the headlines if F1 teams would rent their cars to average joe who can afford that.

  2. This is less about making the car “easier for woman” and more about improving the steering rack and making it more comparable to F1. Lets not forget women can happily drive the more powerful Indycar, which has no powersteering, not to mention Group B rally cars.

    1. True, the complaints of one or two people shouldn’t be extrapolated to half the human population – especially when, as you note, plenty of women do just fine in cars that are more physically demanding.

      Still, power steering isn’t exactly cutting edge technology that costs millions to develop. It’s also not a huge component, so there’s not a whole lot of good reasons to keep it out of these cars.

      1. But still, equally, not a whole lot of good reasons to add it.
        It’s more weight, expense and service/maintenance time. And changing it from what’s currently used, proven and perfected means a new set of potential weak points will be introduced and it makes all current spare parts obsolete.
        What a waste.

        Given the cars are certainly going to be heavier and more expensive than the current ones, why add more of both, completely unnecessarily?

  3. Constantijn Blondel
    1st December 2022, 11:34

    there’s a pun about “steering rack” waiting somewhere …

  4. petebaldwin (@)
    1st December 2022, 12:38

    Sure but both men and women are more capable than children. Perhaps when you grow up, you’ll be in a better place to talk about grown up things without making yourself look ridiculous.

  5. That is essentially what they are saying, yes. Removing another barrier that doesn’t exist and that won’t assist in raising female participation rates.

    Given F1’s eagerness to market itself as industry/road-relevant, it’s probably only a matter of time until similar ‘accessories’ are introduced into F1. FIA will say it’s in the name of safety, of course, when in fact it will be for manufacturers marketing benefit.
    Because that is what F1 exists for.

  6. This is such non-issue but I understand it looks like a hurdle that needs to be passed to be more inclusive. Indycar doesn’t have steering assist and yet I haven’t heard Danica Patrick complaining about it. There has been other female drivers since her driving that car as well. I suspect Jamie Chadwick’s comment was taken out of context for FIA to promote inclusivity.

  7. Well, what a nice man and not at all patronising.
    Did he suggest extra storage space in the cars to carry essentials like make up?

    I don’t think this sort of nonsense worried Michel Mouton a great deal when she was rattling around winning World Rally Championships in Group B cars. Still, I suppose blaming the cars for the shortcomings of the sport in general is safer, as they don’t push back.

    1. Jordan Coughlan
      1st December 2022, 14:56

      IIRC, the Quattro A1/A2 had hydraulic power steering but agree that the response is super patronizing. It will be helpful to all drivers in F2 and if it levels the playing field for female drivers a bit once they reach that level, all the better.

    2. It’ll be front wheel drive so there’s more room in the back for shopping, flowers and little dogs.
      (not my idea – BMW thought of it first with the 1 series)

  8. In racing, what is being sold is entertainment for the sake of advertising; do PSUs detract or add to that business case? PSUs are in place in most every other premier racing series as well as in lower levels – why is this singular microcosm of F2 inherently unique? This will benefit all drivers, not just female ones and allow them to spend more of their effort on the act of racing than on whether their arms are fatigued. MBS can make his point that it is being set up for female drivers for the sake of the soundbite but I doubt many of the rank and file F2 drivers will be put off by it once it is dialed in. Purists will complain, but when don’t they.

  9. Kevin Magnusson said IndyCar’s lack of power steering made it difficult for him, is F2 going to accommodate the “physical differences” of Danes?

    What an absolute load of horse manure. As others have pointed out, women have successfully competed in other series without power steering. If F2 wants to make their steering rack more like F1 because they are a feeder series for F1, that’s fine but don’t dare blame it on women needing power steering.

    1. Rather than blame, it sounds like they’re trying to get a PR win on the basis of something that is being for reasons that are not related to women at all. Makes them sound progressive to say that’s why they did it.

      …designed to better suit female racing drivers as well as males, the series’ CEO Bruno Michel has confirmed.

      I’d like to hear what the improved accommodations are for “males” mentioned in that tacked on statement. My guess are none, unless they know credit standard tech advancements as being gender driven. lol

  10. Mark in Florida
    2nd December 2022, 18:16

    If I remember correctly the early US version of the Ford ZX3 was designed to be able to fit men and women. They had some kind of anatomical robot as a stand in. I owned a 2001 zx3 and I never could get it to fit right as a man. I was either to far from pedals or too close to the dash. It just never did adjust right. If they try to design something that fits everyone it’ll end up fitting no one.

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