After the decision to return to the two-race weekend format for the 2022 FIA Formula 2 championship, many of the drivers have expressed how much they prefer it to the three-race format we saw for the 2021 championship.
Current championship leader Théo Pourchaire was among them, stating after the first qualifying session of the season in Sakhir, “I think it’s a lot better. Last year was just too much and nobody understood the rules, I mean it was too complicated.”
“Now we are back to something really nice and the sprint race winner will only score ten points which is normal because it was tenth in Qualy.”
The two-race format is something that had been part of Formula 2’s regulations since it’s rebrand from GP2 in 2017 but was changed to the three-race format for the 2021 season as part of cost-cutting measures introduced by the FIA.
The measures were designed to help the teams that were competing in both F2 and the FIA Formula 3 championship by allowing them to rotate staff between each championship and alleviate some of the pressure.
When the plans were announced, F2 CEO Bruno Michel told journalists that he hoped the additional race on a Saturday would “spice up the championship even further” and will “enhance the show for the fans and will make it even more special”.
Very early on in the 2021 season, it became apparent that whoever showed the most consistency and kept themselves out of trouble would have the best chance of lifting the crown at the end of the season which led to some stale races where the drivers didn’t want to take too many risks.
The ART Grand Prix driver added, “I think it’s a good thing and tomorrow [Sakhir Sprint Race] I can take more risks because I feel like the Sprint Race doesn’t count a lot so I will try to take risks and if I make a mistake then I have only lost ten points”.
The tactic of staying consistently fast as well as clean was of course proven to be the one by Oscar Piastri who won the championship after finishing only two of the twenty-three races outside of the points, including six race wins with a further five podiums.
Part of the cost-cutting measures also meant that Formula 2 and Formula 3 would race of separate weekends from each other which caused quite a few gaps in the F2 calendar. The grid would have to wait two whole months in between rounds for a total of three times throughout the season, something which effected all the drivers.
Hitech Grand Prix’s Jüri Vips says that the change to a two-race format is “more relevant to F1 and I 100% support it”. He then expressed his frustration with the amount of time in between rounds, saying,
“Last year the gaps between the races were just way, way too big. F3 wasn’t that bad, the season was very condensed so the gaps wasn’t actually that bad but we had like nearly three times a two month gap so you come back to the car and you’re just completely lost on the first free practice.”
This season, the grid aren’t going to have to wait longer than a month in between rounds which should help the dispose of the problems that the Estonian was worried about last year.
The grid returns in Barcelona for round four of the championship on 21 May, six weeks after they took to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for in-season testing during the middle of April.