Formula cars as we know them are evolving, and it’s time we embrace that fact. After 7-years running the FIA has commissioned an all new chassis, with some tech that easily matches what we will see on the 2018 F1 cars.
Built back in 2011, the current Dallara GP2/11 has served the series well, contributing a great proving ground for aspiring Formula 1 contenders. But after a long time running, it’s time for the series to move on to bigger and better things. Dallara’s newest chassis will be called the Dallara F2/18, and boy is it wicked looking. In an effort to attract more fans the F2 car has been given the green light to be more aggressive while also being a bit faster. And while the engine change commands some attention, all eyes are currently on the newest safety feature, the Halo.
That’s right, even the new F2 cars are going to be sporting the Halo. Due to FIA regulations, both F1 and F2 will require full-time driver protection starting in 2018, leaving Dallara no choice but to squeeze in the radical design. When you look at the new design of the Dallara F2/18 compared to the GP2/11 you can really see how edgy the bodywork has become. The new F2/18 comes in 159mm longer than the old GP2/11 even though the track width has yet to change. Weight is still a set minimum of just 1,587.33lbs. The overall performance of the new Dallara F2/18 is looking about the same then, right? That would be true if it weren’t for one little factor, a new freaking engine.
With an overall goal of bridging the gap from chump to champ, the FIA has announced they have landed on a new engine to go with this spectacular new chassis. And no it isn’t something you are going to want to hear. Once again we are witnessing a great sounding engine, being replaced by a turbocharged plant with no soul. Sure, the Dallara F2/18 will gain an extra 8hp over its predecessor, but it does so at a sacrifice of sound. Those 4-liter V8’s were superb, and it’s a shame they are out of date.
While I don’t necessarily agree with the engine choice, there is no denying you have to either jump on board or be left well behind. When you do finally join team F2/18, you are greeted with an entirely new ECU, one the FIA is calling ‘future proof.’ Basically, the system is designed to be reprogrammable, allowing for software updates instead of hardware updates when the inevitable evolutions take place. This is one of many measures in place to keep the cost of racing to a reasonable level, something that has gotten well out of hand in the past.
All in all the new Dallara F2/18 chassis is a promising evolution for the worlds best feeder series. While I am all for the new Halo safety device, I am not sure how I feel about the new engine choice. My inner rationalise see’s how that makes a better transition to the big stage, but my inner enthusiast will greatly miss the sweet song of those awesome V8s. I guess we should just be happy they have engines at all. With Formula E on the rise, it’s only a matter of time before racing no longer has a soundtrack.