What is happening in F2? Double disqualification drama!

Technical issues lead to disqualifications across the first two F2 rounds.

George Brownless
2nd April 2024
Trident F2 - wikimedia commons, Jen Ross
The Formula 2 season has already seen its first 2 rounds play out, across Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, with plenty of talking points coming out of the opening two races, not least the last minute call up to Ferrari for Ollie Bearman. With the series however, there have been a number of disqualifications for technical breaches through the first 2 race weekends.

After qualifying for the races in Bahrain, Invicta driver Kush Maini took pole position for the Feature race, with teammate Gabriel Bortoleto just behind in 2nd. Maini was subsequently disqualified for the left undertray height being below the minimum allowed requirements, sending Maini to the back of the grid for both the Sprint and Feature race. The technical delegate report for the incident states “the undertray front external strake was found to be 6.1mm lower than the minimum” and “after taking the tolerance of 5mm into account” it was still 1.1mm below the limit. Maini stated in the meeting with the stewards that, they thought they hit a kerb during the session, causing some damage. However, like F1, F2’s technical regulations have disqualification as the standard penalty for breaking the technical regulations. Every other driver subsequently moved up one position in the qualifying results, with Bortoleto taking his teammates pole, and Jak Crawford being the biggest gainer, as he moved from 11th to 10th, giving him pole for the Sprint. In Formula 2, the top ten drivers in qualifying have their order reversed for the grid for the Sprint race. Maini took revenge one week later in Saudi Arabia, finishing 2nd in the Feature race, leaving him 5th in the standings with much of the season still to come.

Saudi Arabia saw a pair of technical disqualifications. This time it was Trident teammates Richard Verschoor and Roman Stanek who fell victim. This meant that Verschoor lost his Sprint win, while Stanek was disqualified from 10th - The reasoning this time was due to both cars having an incorrect throttle pedal progressivity map. The stewards, similar to Maini’s incident summoned the drivers and team representatives, although the drivers did not attend the hearing. The throttle pedal mappings get uploaded to the cars engine control unit (ECU) before the race, which is where the problem occurred. The Team Manager confirmed that the incorrect map had been uploaded. As it turns out, the map uploaded was the version from 2023, mistakenly uploaded by one of the engineers - following this the Team Manager apologized and accepted full responsibility.

Fine margins are incredibly common in motorsport, and the smallest of mistakes can have devastating consequences, and ruin weekends. Maini went from a pole position in Bahrain, a huge opportunity to score big points, to only being able to salvage 6 points from his whole weekend. The Trident pair, find themselves much further down the standings - neither scored in Bahrain, and Verschoor was only able to grab 4 points in the Feature race of Saudi Arabia. It’s not just F2, F1 has had incidents in this vein as recently as Austin in 2023, seeing Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton disqualified for wear on the cars floor being too great. The teams in F2 will be looking to tread carefully, to not be the next one to break the regulations.

On a more positive note, Enzo Fittipaldi took victory in the Feature race at Saudi Arabia, a few year on from 2021 where he found himself rear-ending Theo Pourchaire at the start of the race. He was able to take his maiden Feature race victory, with an audacious 3-wide pass to take the victory. What stands in front of us is potentially an all-time classic F2 season, particularly with the amount of contracts available in F1 next season. Could we see the likes of a title fight like how Russell, Norris and Albon started out in 2018 before George took the reigns? That remains to be seen.

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