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Formula 2 back in business: FIA confirms GP2 deal with Liberty, issues calendar

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Formula 2 back in business: FIA confirms GP2 deal with Liberty, issues calendar
Mar 9, 2017, 6:22 PM

The FIA World Motor Sport Council today confirmed the deal with Liberty Media to rebrand GP2 as Formula 2.

The FIA World Motor Sport Council today confirmed the deal with Liberty Media to rebrand GP2 as Formula 2.

This completes a driver development ladder that the FIA has been trying to complete for several years, having created the entry level F4 series and rolled it out in 12 countries across the world. The GP2 and GP3 series came to Liberty as part its acquisition of F1’s commercial rights.

Previous commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone had controlled the pathway to F1 via GP3 and GP2, which operate on the F1 support package. This put it in competition with the FIA pathway for aspiring F1 drivers. Although the FIA F3 series has thrived with young drivers Max Verstappen, Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll all graduating to F1 in the last two seasons, the FIA did not managed to create a viable F2 series.

When Liberty took over from Ecclestone, following its acquistion F1 commercial rights, there was some 'low hanging fruit' there for both sides in the GP2/F2 rebranding and an early win in their negotiations. An optimist would say that this is an an encouraging sign that the FIA and new commercial rights holder can do business, after the fractious relationship with Ecclestone in recent years.

More difficult negotiations lie ahead around F1 and the restoration of the Concorde Agreement between FIA, F1 and teams beyond 2020. A realist would say that the GP2/F2 deal is child's play in comparison.

“Rationalising the pathway to Formula One has been a major goal of the FIA in my time here and the designation of a new F2 would achieve that goal,” said FIA president Jean Todt.

“Obviously we are in an early phase of involvement in this championship but I think there is a lot of scope for development."

The series will support F1 at all rounds except one in Jerez, Spain. GP3 champion Charles Leclerc is among the favourites for the series this year, along with Antonio Fuoco. Prior to the rebranding Leclerc tweeted a photo of his new car (above). The new cars will test at Barcelona next week.

"I am very pleased to announce the evolution of the GP2 Series to become the FIA Formula 2 Championship," said F1 CEO Chase Carey. "Junior categories and especially the upcoming Formula 2 Championship are strategic activities for Formula 1. We are delighted to strengthen them through this agreement with the FIA.”

There was no mention of what will happen to GP3, which now sits alongside, but outside, the FIA's development ladder.

* In another development in the last couple of days, some of the workload of the FIA's Charlie Whiting has been delegated to ex McLaren Aerodynamicist Marcin Budkowski and former Toro Rosso chief operations engineer Laurent Mekies. Whiting remains the FIA Director and Race Director, but Budkwoski and Mekies will take up responsibility has head of technical and safety director roles respectively. Mekies will also sit alongside Whiting in race control in the seat vacated by Herbie Blash last season.

* The World Council also approved the continuation of the agreement with McLaren Applied Technologies to supply the standard electronic control unit (ECU) to F1 teams. This is an important piece of equipment, essentially the 'brain' of an F1 car and the standardisation of the part means that costs are kept under control and also that cheating by means of traction control or launch control is not possible as the device is under the control of the FIA technical side.

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Charles Leclerc