Formula 2 to retain single Qualifying session format
By Mat Coch
Saturday 3rd December, 2022 - 3:16pm
Formula 2 will retain its current single-session Qualifying format rather than moving towards the three-segment system employed by Formula 1.
Championship CEO Bruno Michel reasoned that the complexities of changing the system would outweigh any benefits of doing so.
Formula 2 currently has a single 30-minute session on Friday afternoons, with a driver’s fastest lap from any point throughout that time counting.
That results in a flurry of activity early as the field works to record a banker lap before a lull in proceedings as it files into the pit lane for a second set of tyres.
Then, in the closing moments of the session, it heads out once more.
It was suggested a variant of the Formula 1 system could be implemented, with a two-part session open to all 22 drivers for the opening phase and then limited to the top 10 thereafter.
However, Michel reasons it would not be feasible given the constraints – both time and financial – F2 operates under.
“We thought about it, but what you need to realise is that our Qualifying sessions are shorter than Formula 1, and we have more cars, so it’s not something that is easy to put together,” he told Speedcafe.com.
“We’ve considered many different possibilities and, at the end of the day, we thought that the most interesting one was still the one we have, from the very beginning, I would say, of GP2 and GP3 (the forerunners to Formula 2 and Formula 3), which is to give the drivers 30 minutes to do the best times as possible with, generally, two sets of option tyres
“If we see that there are too many cars on track, like it is the case in Monaco, we do two groups, but it reduces the time of the Qualifying so it, it’s an advantage, but it’s also an inconvenience.
“So for us, we really think that what we’re doing at the moment is probably the best thing that we can do.
“But now also, as you know, after Qualifying, you have the reverse grid for the Sprint Race on Saturday, which makes a difference in terms of what the Qualifying results are going to be on the track.”
Having run a three-race weekend format in 2021, Formula 2 reverted to a more traditional two-race system this year.
That saw a single practice feed into Qualifying, which set the grid for Sunday’s Feature Race, which includes a mandatory pit stop.
The top 10 from Qualifying were then inverted on the grid for Saturday’s Sprint Race.
“We introduced this format for cost reasons, mainly because it allowed us to have three races per weekend instead of two,” Michel explained of the 2021 concept.
“That was, in terms of overhead, quite a big difference for the teams.
“But the problem was that we had much less weekends and the excitement from the fans and even from the drivers was a little bit falling down when you didn’t have any event for two months.
“That was not good for the momentum of the category and for the fans and for the followers, so we decided to go back to a different format.
“I wanted to keep the feature race on Sunday for both categories,” he added.
“Sunday is the biggest day of the weekend with Formula 1 and it was very important that we were having, on Sunday in front of the Formula 1 crowd for the race, that we are having the Feature Race.
“So that’s why we twisted it a little bit to make sure that we could have the Sprint Race on Saturday and the Feature is on Sunday.”
The 2023 Formula 2 season will open in conjunction with the first round of the Formula 1 year in Bahrain on March 3-5.