While F1 is often described as the pinnacle of motorsport, it is Formula 2 and Formula 3 that act as the main pathways for drivers to reach this point. For 2022, a reworking of the format for races in F2 and F3 saw positive responses and a more efficient season for all the teams involved. However, there are always further questions to be asked about the road to F1.
By Tyler Foster
F1 Feeder Series had the opportunity to speak to the CEO and man behind F2 and F3, Bruno Michel. We asked the Frenchman about the ongoing topic of Super License points and whether he felt there should be a change to the system to better support American drivers. Finally, we also discussed any plans to make additional reforms to the weekend schedule or calendar.
‘We must follow the tables’
For anyone that has followed any motorsport news over the last month, I’m sure you don’t need reminding of a certain Colton Herta and the issue of there being reduced Super License points regarding IndyCar and the developmental ‘Road to Indy’ series. In fact, there are more points on offer in F2 than for IndyCar, despite the latter being a top-tier championship. Nevertheless, for those in charge of Euro-centric series such as F2 and F3, like Bruno Michel, this discussion is a big deal to their status.
Currently finishing fourth in a season of the NTT IndyCar Series rewards you a total of 10 Super License points; meanwhile, winning the Formula Regional Asian Championship (FRAC) winter series rewards you with a similar 18 points. This highlights the obvious disparity in points awarded between differing series, and tends to favour non-American competitions. For a premier championship such as IndyCar to be regarded so poorly in comparison may seem almost harmful to American racing. What this does do is help remain the focus and attention of motorsport toward Europe and their feeder series model leading right to F1.
However, when speaking to Bruno Michel, the supposed topic was dismissed almost as a non-issue. Unsurprisingly, the FIA and Mr Michel are stern in their defence of the current system. As he later points out, the present model forces American sponsors or drivers to have to go through Europe in order to get to F1. Furthermore, this is working, as drivers like Logan Sargeant are pioneering a new wave of American drivers in F2 and F3; with a total of five different US drivers having competed in either series this year.
We will hope that there are American drivers coming into Formula 1Bruno Michel
“There is already some points attributed to the American championships in the overall table of the FIA, talking about the Super License. I think this has already been taken into consideration. For me, it is quite a simple answer that has been said by almost everybody; there is a rule, there are tables and we apply the tables. That’s exactly the same if you ask me for Formula 3 drivers who have been finishing 5th or 6th in the championship, can have a Super License, in the table he cannot. I think that’s the way it needs to be. So, we cannot say that we don’t want American drivers. We have a lot of American drivers in Formula 3 at the moment, we have Logan [Sargeant] in Formula 2. We will hope that there are American drivers coming into Formula 1. Whether they come from our championships or whether they come from Indy, for me is not an issue at all, as long as they have enough points to get their Super License.”
It seems less about delegitimising American-based series, such as IndyCar, and more about retaining the attention of sponsorships and driver to more heavily support F2 and F3 as the dominant route to Formula 1 for all. To some American drivers, this seems targeted and unjust toward them, but it is merely a battle for control over the feeder series ladders in motorsport. With the views of the FIA aligning with Bruno Michel so closely, their interests are shared and they will work to maintain the current Super License system in the near-future. It is unlikely that the table will be adapted or updated, meaning that the current situation will remain for a considerable period. To assert the stability of F2 and F3 in the pecking order of motorsport, the balance of power regarding matters such as these must stay in their favour.
New format a success
One major positive from this year’s F2 and F3 action has been the reversion of the weekend schedule to just one Sprint Race alongside the Feature Race on Sunday. The inclusion of two Sprint Races made for constant viewing in 2021, but also nullified the importance of the grander Feature Races. The return to two races per weekend made things less frantic for teams while seeing the Feature Race gain more importance again. This more ‘traditional format’ may have reduced track time with one less race per weekend, but with the extended calendar it has certainly has been a success for Bruno Michel.
Reverse grid and the Feature Race on Sunday works very well. We don’t want to change for the sake of changing.Bruno Michel
“I think it worked very well,” Mr Michel commented. “I know all the feedback I had from the drivers, from the teams, from you guys [journalists and fans] as well was extremely positive so I’m happy for that. As you said, we came to a more traditional format except that I wanted to keep the Feature Race on Sunday. For me that was very important to do that and we did it, and the way it’s working now with the quali and the reverse grid and the Feature Race on Sunday works very well. We don’t want to change for the sake of changing.”
“We changed last year for obvious cost reasons, because we wanted to diminish the number of venues and making three races per venue was making it much cheaper, let’s put it that way. Now we’ve finished this quite complicated period of COVID that made things quite complicated for everybody in terms of money. So, we are back and into this new format now and we are happy about it and we don’t plan to change it.
While it may seem a shame that there is no big announcement for next year, other than the debut of Australia on the F2 and F3 calendars, Mr Michel is right in saying that change is not always necessary for the championships to remain relevant. More and more fans are paying attention to the feeder series ladder with the gateway for many being F2 and F3’s recent prosperity. Credit must be given to Bruno Michel and his managing of the series over recent years, with its following and popularity currently at an all-time high. Only time will tell whether the 2023 edition proves to be even more of a success than the last.
Header photo credit: Red Bull Content Pool
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