Formula 4-3-2-1

Quite recently, I forget when exactly, there arrived a book from the FIA on the subject of Formula 4.  It’s a nice enough book, a mouse-killer in terms of weight, if dropped from letterbox height, but something to be stuck on the shelf for future reference, as some of the racers involved will no doubt be turning up in F1 before too long. To be honest, right now I don’t know a Fewtrell from a Verschoor or a Mawson or a Siebert. I’ve heard of Schumacher but I want to see some serious results from him before I will stop being wary about  the money and connections which come from sons of famous fathers.  In life, it is all too often a question of not what you know, but who you know. I was amused to see that one of the champions is called Cameron Das, although I could not help but think that there was a letter missing somewhere.

Anyway, the best of this lot will be passing on up the racing ladder and I have been mulling over the unforeseen changes that will come about as a result of the Liberty Media takeover of F1 and the arrival of the nasty NASDAQ ticker name FWONK. It sounds like a Frenchman with a lisp trying to talk to Sir Francis Williams; or the sounds that one hears when an FIA Formula 4 annual lands on a passing mouse.  I used to get annual books from Ferrari as well, but their insistence on deliveries being made by DHL meant that it never did arrive and I guess they have given up trying now, having had several returned to sender. The local mice are probably quite happy.

I was wondering the other day what Jean Todt and Chase Carey must have been discussing in recent months and concluded that probably the FIA President was sufficiently keen to have Mr E high-pressured-hosed out of the door that he probably did not ask for much in Formula 1 terms. Todt doesn’t want to have to run Formula 1 any more than he must and he continues to be an eager beaver about road safety, while also quietly building up revenues from other FIA championships. The federation will be dependent on F1 for a while yet, but other revenues are a really good idea.

One of Todt’s strategies has been to try to promote a simplified development path in single seater racing, so that the public can understand it. Unless you’re a real grandstand anorak, you probably cannot explain why a Formula Renault to Formula 3.5 V8 and then GP2 is a sensible option. Or what makes the Super Formula so super.

It would be so much easier to have Formula 4, Formula 3, Formula 2 and Formula 1. Most people can understand that. The establishment of Formula 4 in 2014 as the first step in that direction. There was then a controversial revamp of Formula 3 to make the international championship more relevant. The current Dallara F312 chassis will be replaced after the current season, at least in theory, but I have a vague suspicion that we may see European Formula 3 being faded out. The big teams in the championships have such a dominant position now and there are far too many billionaires involved, so it has less value than once it did.

But I think that Mr Todt will have thought this through and will have made it a condition of the F1 sale that GP2 and GP3 be turned into championships with more sensible names and more sensible bills. There is a good margin of profit in both these championships, which should not be the case, but the uncontrolled greed of CVC Capital meant that every tiny little penny had to be squeezed out of the business. If these series were run at cost and with different names, they would be a lot more relevant. So I think we will see GP2 being transformed into Formula 2 and GP3 becoming Formula 3. This really makes sense. Formula 4 would become the top championship at national level and then F3 and F2 would be the visible support races to help youngsters rise to F1. We may still have Formula 3.5 and Super Formula, but they will be less relevant.

And it will be easier to explain to the folks with bums on seats.

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