Formula racing

Formula racing

Formula racing is a term that refers to various forms of open wheeled single seater motorsport. Its origin lies in the nomenclature that was adopted by the FIA for all of its post-World War II single seater regulations, or . The best known of these formulae are Formula One, Formula Two, and Formula Three. Common usage of "formula racing" is now more generic and encompasses most single seater series, including the GP2 Series, which replaced Formula 3000.

Categories such as Formula Three and GP2 are described as feeder formulae, which refers to their position below Formula One on the career ladder of single seater motor racing. There are two primary forms of racing formula: the open formula that allows a choice of chassis and/or engines; and the control or "spec" formula that relies on a single supplier for chassis and engines. Formula Three is an example of an open formula, while Formula BMW is a control formula.

The first racing formulae

Formula One

In the process of reviving Grand Prix racing after the end of World War II, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile's Commission Sportive Internationale was responsible for defining the standardised regulations of Formula One in 1946. The first race to be run to the early Formula One regulations was a non-championship Grand prix at Turin in September 1946. The first officially recognised "Drivers' World Championship" was held in 1947 and the "Formula One World Championship" was inaugurated in 1950. This was the first example of formula racing.

Formulae Two and Three

The Formula Two regulations were first defined in 1947 as a form of B-class below Formula One. [ [ Formula Two] From "" Retrieved on August 28 2007.] It was not unusual for some Formula One events to include a number of F2 entries in the same field and the entries in the World Championship seasons of 1952-53 comprised exclusively F2 cars for reasons of cost. F2 had a patchy history until the inauguration of the "European Formula Two Championship" in 1967. F2 was an open formula that allowed the use of any chassis that met the prescribed regulations; it was well supported during the 1970s, with chassis from Tecno, March Engineering, Toleman, Ralt, Matra and others. The European championship ran continually until the creation of its successor, Formula 3000, in 1985. [ [ F2] From "" Retrieved on August 28 2007.]

Formula Three has a longer history; unlike Formula Two, it still exists today, with at least ten active championships around the world. It was created by the FIA in 1950 as the low cost entry point to single seater formula racing. In 1959, it was replaced by a technically similar formula called Formula Junior, before Formula Three was reintroduced in 1964. [ [ British F3 Champions] From "" Retrieved on August 28 2007.] Like the other FIA-derived formulae, F3 is an open class that permits a choice of chassis and engines. Notable championships include the F3 Euroseries, the British F3 Championship, and the Formel 3 Cup.

Recent history

The FIA-sanctioned category directly below Formula One has been subject to two significant evolutions in its history. The first occurred in 1985 when the "FIA Formula 3000 International Championship" was launched as a modern successor to Formula Two. Formula 3000 retained the open chassis approach, but used a single engine supply of 3.0 litre V8s from Cosworth. The formula later adopted a single chassis supply from Lola with engines that were built by Judd and supplied by Zytek. The second major evolution came in 2005 when Formula 3000 was replaced by the GP2 Series. This uses a single chassis from Dallara and a Renault-badged 4.0 litre V8.

Car manufacturers

The Ford Motor Company was the first car manufacturer to become involved in the creation of an eponymous single seater formula when Formula Ford was developed in the United Kingdom in 1966-67. The cars made their race debut in July 1967. [ [ FFord History] From "" Retrieved on August 28 2007.] Formula Ford is and always has been an open formula with for chassis suppliers. Current suppliers include Van Diemen, Mygale, and Ray. [ [ British FFord Constructors' Standings] From "" Retrieved on August 28 2007.] Various specifications and capacities of 4-cylinder Ford road car engines have been used; the current cars are equipped with a 1.6 litre "Duratec" engine.
Renault quickly followed Ford's lead by devising the national Formula Renault championships in France in 1971. [ [ History of Formula Renault] From "" Retrieved on August 28 2007.] Since then, Formula Renault has expanded to include championships in the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Brazil and many other countries. There is also a European championship. Renault's increased involvement in motor racing resulted in the creation of a second European series for larger V6-powered cars. The "Formula Renault V6 Eurocup" ran for two seasons before folding in a reorganisation of Renault's motor racing activities. The company took control of the Spanish-based "World Series by Nissan" and developed it into the World Series by Renault.

BMW developed Formula BMW in Germany in 2001-2002, after supplying engines for its predecessor, the Formula ADAC championship. [ [ Formula BMW History] From "". Retrieved on August 28 2007.] Formula BMW now comprises four championships in Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and East Asia, as well as an annual World Final at which the best drivers from each championship are invited to compete.

Outside Europe

Formula-style single seater racing can be found around the world in countries that have not adopted the career ladder of the common European formulae. Japan's highest level single seater championship is Formula Nippon, which is equivalent to GP2 and its predecessors. It began in 1973, using Formula Two regulations, and then adopted Formula 3000 regulations from 1987 to 1996. Since then, it has used chassis and engines that are built to its own proprietary ruleset. It now uses a single chassis from Lola and two engine options from Honda and Toyota. [ [ 2007 Formula Nippon Entry List] From "" Retrieved on August 28 2007.]

The United States, too, has unique feeder formulae of its own. Since 1974, the most common route to top-level single seaters was "Formula Atlantic", which is now known as the Atlantic Championship. It was later joined by the Firestone Indy Lights Series, first ran by CART and later revived by the IRL. Atlantic joined its rival in support of the IndyCar Series after the latter's merger with Champ Car in 2008. Below this level sits the Star Mazda Championship, which is approximately equivalent to Formula Three.

East Asia's racing culture is relatively young, but it already has its own Formula BMW championship and a Formula Three series. The cars that were built for the Formula Renault V6 Eurocup are now used in "Formula Asia V6" and next year, a new Asian GP2 championship will take place. [ [ Asian GP2 series confirmed] From ", May 24 2007. Retrieved on August 31 2007.]

Notes and references

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