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  • Writer's pictureTatiana Žišková

The history of Formula Two

A brief introduction to the history of Formula 2.

Everyone is eager to know more about the history of Formula 1. But have you ever stopped for a moment and thought about the history of Formula 2? If not, let me tell you some brief facts about how it all started.

A quick throwback to 1947

Born from financial issues, the first mentions of Formula 2 (or Formula B) come from 1947, when the Grand Prix regulations of cars had to be changed into something more accessible for others.

"In 1947, the official rules for Grand Prix racing had the top tier utilising 4.5-litre naturally aspirated or 1.5-litre supercharged engines in all cars." (GrandPrix247. com) Staying with the same regulations made racing really expensive. For that reason, Formula 2 was created.

The first codification happened a year later. Throughout the years, the series has run under different names, and today, we recognize it as the FIA Formula 2 Championship. In general, Formula 2 is a ladder to the top step desired by all the drivers to achieve - Formula 1. Sadly, the invitation to the pinnacle of motorsport is never guaranteed, even if you do great in Formula 2.

1948 Stockholm Grand Prix

The first-ever Formula 2 race with the newly established rules happened in the post-war era on May 30, 1948. It took place near Stockholm at Skarpnäck Airfield. The track was triangle-shaped with three intersecting runways. There were five turns and an overall length of 2.20 km. Unfortunately, the circuit celebrated its debut and also its swansong at the same time - no other Grand Prix regarding Formula 2 happened there ever since. As for a winner, the Stockholm Grand Prix was won by a Thai driver Birabongse Bhanudej Bhanubandh (also known as B.Bira). The whole thing about announcing the winner was a bit complicated - at first, B.Bira was disqualified because Prince Bertil helped Bira's car at the start by pushing him. However, a year later, Bira was re-announced as Grand Prix winner.

The 1950s

Imagine that there are no competition-worthy teams in Formula 1, except for one really famous Italian team. What would the higher-ups do in this case? It sounds like a very unusual and not quite plausible situation, but it actually happened back in 1952 and 1953. This decision brought in many teams. Therefore, Formula 1's regulations had to change into regulations of Formula 2. As expected, it backfired. "Not for the first time and certainly not for the last, regulation changes intended to close up the field actually had the opposite effect, leading to one of the most dominant driver/team combinations in the history of the sport." (Formula Scout. com) To keep the interest of fans, teams, and businessmen, Formula 2 became much cheaper and less technologically advanced version of Formula 1.

Timeline of Formula 2

  • The Beginning (post war–1953)

  • 1.5-litre Era (1957–1960)

  • Formula Junior (1961–1963)

  • 1-litre Formula Two (1964–1966)

  • 1.6-litre Era (1967–1971)

  • 2.0-litre Era (1972–1984)

  • "Revival" (2009–2012)

  • "Revival 2.0 - FIA Formula 2 Championship" (2017)

It all began in the 1950s. Later, the regulations changed again. It entered the era of 1.5-litre cars. As you can see, it lasted for about three years only. Then, it was replaced by Formula Junior – a series in which drivers were allowed to use some mechanical components from ordinary cars. A man we should not forget when mentioning Formula Junior is Giovanni Lurani. Lurani was an Italian racing driver, automobile engineer, and journalist. He was the one who brought this idea to the table and was openly supporting Formula Junior as such.

Moving forward to the 1-litre era that didn't last for very long either, mostly because this sort of regulation was considered as a downgrade. Slowly entering the 70s, the cars were made with an engine capacity of 1.6 litre, which was much more popular than the previously used engines. Later, the 2-litre engine capacity was introduced and it lasted until 1984. During these years, a few Formula 1 drivers tried Formula 2 as well. The examples are Jacky Ickx, Jim Clark or Gerhard Mitter.

As you can see, there is quite a huge gap between the years 1984 and 2009. The reason is that after 1984, a new category was created – Formula 3000, which was placed somewhere between Formula 1 and Formula 3. Unsurprisingly, these cars were powered by 3-litre engines. Formula 3000 replaced Formula 2, but the series came back to life in 2009. It was a mandatory rule for all teams to use the same chassis and engine. "The cars were designed by Williams Grand Prix Engineering, and were powered by a 1.8L turbocharged Audi engine." After four seasons, it was discontinued, due to lack of popularity

Alongside the FIA Formula Two Championship, there was the GP2 Series founded by Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore in 2005. In 2017, the series was rebranded into the FIA Formula 2 Championship - the one we know now. From troublesome beginnings, Formula Two emerged into the crucial category of open-wheeled single-seaters.

FIA Formula 2 Championship

Formula 2 has been here for decades. Even though this series has changed a lot over years, the spark and excitement stayed more or less the same. I dare to say that we're witnessing the peak of Formula 2's popularity. Modern F2 consists of "22 identical cars and the chassis are designed by Dallara Automobili. The power base is a Mecachrome-assembled 3.4L turbocharged V6."

"A new era dawned with the ideology of the ultimate training ground for Formula 1 - the FIA Formula 2 Championship (F2). An agreement was made between the FIA and the former GP2 Series Organisation to re-brand, re-style and re-think the Road to F1, with the aim of creating the most competitive single-make championship on the planet." - Formula 2


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