New three-race F2 and F3 weekend formats announced for 2021
As part of cost-cutting measures that include three-race weekends for Formula 2 and Formula 3, there will be major changes to each championship’s weekend formats – with an extra reverse-grid race on Saturday for both categories.
Stable car regulations and a provisional calendar, which will see Formula 2 racing on separate weekends from Formula 3 have already been announced, as has the measure to make each F2 and F3 event comprise three races each rather than two. To accommodate the new three-race schedules, the weekend format has been revised for both series.
From 2021, the single 45-minute Free Practice session and 30-minute qualifying session are retained for F2. However, there will be two F2 Sprint Races (of 120 kilometres or 45 minutes each) on Saturday while the one-hour/170 kilometre F2 Feature Race will now take place on Sunday, ahead of the F1 Grand Prix.
In Formula 3, there will still be a Friday Free Practice Session and 30-minute qualifying session, but Race 1 and Race 2 will take place on Saturday, while Race 3 takes place on Sunday morning ahead of the F1 Grand Prix.
As a result of having two reverse-grid contests per F2 and F3 weekend, the starting grids will also be determined differently in 2021.
The grid for Sunday’s F2 Feature Race will be set by the Friday qualifying session, while the starting grid of the first Saturday Sprint Race will be set by reversing the top 10 finishers in qualifying. The second Sprint Race grid will be determined by reversing the top 10 finishers of the first Sprint Race.
Similarly, in F3, Friday qualifying decides the grid for Sunday’s Race 3. Race 1’s grid is set by reversing the top 12 finishers from Friday qualifying; Race 2’s grid is set by reversing the top 12 finishers from Race 1.
Three races means three chances to score points, and different allocations for both series in the Road to F1.
The F2 pole-sitter still receives four points but Sprint Race 1 and Sprint Race 2’s Top 8 finishers will be awarded points (15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1) while the Top 10 finishers of the Feature Race will score (25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1).
Points allocations differ for F3 as well, with the top 10 finishers in Race 1 and Race 2 now gaining fewer points (15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1). The top 10 finishers in Race 3 will be awarded more points (25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1).
For both series, two points will be awarded to the driver who sets fastest lap and finishes in the top 10 in both series. As a result, 65 points will now be up for grabs in F2 and F3 over a weekend, increasing from 48 this season.
Pirelli tyre allocations will also be modified, with each F2 driver given six sets of dry tyres (four prime sets and two option sets) per weekend with three wet-weather tyre sets. F3 drivers will have five sets of dry-weather tyres and two sets of wet-weather tyres available for each event. That's one more set of dry-weather tyres for each driver in F2 and F3.
FIA Formula 2 and Formula 3 CEO Bruno Michel said: “I am pleased to reveal the changes to our sporting regulations which have been approved by the World Motor Sport Council.
“It’s fantastic to be able to move the [F2] Feature Race to Sunday which is the day of the Formula 1 Grand Prix. It will enhance the show for the fans and will make it even more special.
“Having two reverse grids on Saturday will spice up the championship even further. We have seen already how entertaining these races are. It should also allow more drivers to showcase their skills in front of the Formula 1 paddock and the rest of the world.”
As for the F3 changes, which include more points for Race 3, he added: “Race 3 will take place on Sunday which is the day of the Formula 1 Grand Prix. As its starting grid will be determined by the final classification of qualifying, we decided as in the past to award more points to the top 10 finishers.”