Formula racing is any of several forms of open-wheeled single-seater motorsport. The origin of the term lies in the nomenclature that was adopted by the FIA for all of its post-World War II single-seater regulations, or formulae. The best known of these formulae are Formula One, Two, and Three. Common usage of "formula racing" encompasses other single-seater series, including the GP2 Series, which replaced Formula 3000 (which had itself been the effective replacement for Formula Two).
Categories such as Formula Three and GP2 are described as feeder formulae, which refers to their position below Formula One on the career ladder of single-seater motor racing. There are two primary forms of racing formula: the open formula that allows a choice of chassis and/or engines; and the control or "spec" formula that relies on a single supplier for chassis and engines. Formula Three is an example of an open formula, while Formula BMW is a control formula. There are also some exceptions on these two forms like Formula Ford where there is an open chassis formula but a restricted single brand engine formula.
This table shows the ranks of formulae. It could also be an example of a racing driver's career. In this article these formulae, formulae ranked below Tier 5 and defunct formulae are listed and described.
|Region||Tier 1||Tier 2||Tier 3||Tier 4|
|World||Formula One||GP2 Series||GP3 Series
|Europe||—||Formula Renault 3.5||Formula 3
Formula Renault 2.0
|North America||IndyCar Series||Indy Lights||Pro Mazda Championship||USF2000|
|Japan||Super Formula||—||Japanese Formula 3||Japan Formula 4|
- 1 Europe
- 2 North America
- 3 Japan
- 4 Formula series below Tier 5
- 5 Defunct series
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes and references
Tier 1 – Formula One
In the process of reviving Grand Prix racing after the end of World War II, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile's Commission Sportive Internationale was responsible for defining the standardised regulations of Formula One (F1) in 1946. The first race to be run to the early Formula One regulations was a non-championship Grand Prix in Turin in September 1946. The first officially recognised Drivers' World Championship was held in 1947 and the Formula One World Championship was inaugurated in 1950. This was the first example of formula racing.
Tier 2 – GP2 Series and WSR
The GP2 series was introduced in 2005 by Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore following the discontinuation of the long-term F1 feeder series – Formula 3000. Designed to make racing affordable and to make it the perfect training ground for life in F1, GP2 teams were mandated to use the same chassis, engine and tire supplier so that true driver ability would be reflected. So far, 25 out of 136 GP2 drivers have reached F1. In 2012 the GP2 and GP2 Asia Series combined to make one longer GP2 series, which contained four Asian Grands Prix next to the well-known European races.
Formula Renault 3.5
In 2003, the most senior Formula Renault was the Formula Renault V6 Eurocup, which supported the ETCC and FIA GT's "Super Racing Weekends". After just two seasons Renault merged the series with the World Series by Nissan to form the World Series by Renault (WSR), which supported the Formula One Grands Prix. Part of this series are Formula Renault 3.5 and Formula Renault 2.0.
Tier 3 – GP3 and Formula E
The GP3 Series was launched by Bruno Michel in 2010 as a feeder series for GP2. So far, four drivers have competed in Formula One after GP3 – the 2010 champion Esteban Gutiérrez (Sauber), the 2011 champion Valtteri Bottas (Williams), Jean-Éric Vergne (Toro Rosso), and the 2013 champion Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso).
Formula E is intended to be the highest class of competition for one-make, single-seat, electrically powered racing cars. The series was conceived in 2012, with the inaugural championship to be held in 2014–15. So far, nine cities have confirmed to host an "ePrix": Beijing, Putrajaya, Rio de Janeiro, Punta del Este, Buenos Aires, Miami, Long Beach, Monte Carlo, Berlin and London.  In order to manage the costs of operating a Formula E team each constructor will be mandated to make their car available to two other teams for a maximum capped price. This cap is currently set at €350 000. Also, all teams and cars have been accommodated at the official testing facility Donington Park.
Tier 4 – Formula Three and Auto GP
Formula Three has a long history, with at least ten active championships around the world. It was created by the FIA in 1950 as the low cost entry point to single-seater formula racing. In 1959, it was replaced by a technically similar formula called Formula Junior, before Formula Three was reintroduced in 1964. Like the other FIA-derived formulae, F3 is an open class that permits a choice of chassis and engines. Notable championships include the FIA European Formula Three Championship, the British Formula Three Championship, and the All-Japan Formula Three Championship.
The Auto GP World Series' roots can be traced back to 1999 and the Italian Formula 3000 series. At first, nearly all races were held in Italy, but the series expanded throughout Europe quickly. In 2001 the series became European Formula 3000 and in 2004 Superfund became the title sponsor, planning to set up the Formula Superfund series. However, the funding was pulled and the series was cancelled. Therefore, Coloni Motorsport re-established the Italian Formula 3000 and expanded this in 2006 to the Euroseries 3000. In 2010, the first-generation A1 Grand Prix cars replaced the Lola F3000 chassis and the Auto GP name was adopted.
Tier 5 – Formula Renault 2.0
See: Formula Renault 3.5
Tier 1 – IndyCar Series
The Verizon IndyCar Series is the premier level of American open wheel racing. The series, founded by Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony George, began in 1996 as the "Indy Racing League" (IRL). It was created as a cheaper alternative to the CART championship (later "Champ Car World Series"), which relied on expensive machinery and overseas drivers. In 2008, the two series merged to form the IndyCar Series. The IndyCar Series is not an open formula. The league specifies the chassis, engine and tyre manufacturers, which are changed every three years. Currently, all teams run on Dallara chassis and Firestone tires and they can choose between a Honda and a Chevrolet engine. The 2013 championship contains six ovals, three road courses and seven street circuits.
Tier 2 – Indy Lights
The current Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires is the feeder series for the IndyCar Series, like F1 has GP2. The original Indy Lights (known as "American Racing Series") acted as a developmental circuit for CART from 1986 to 2001. In 2001, the Toyota Atlantic series was equally effective in providing new drivers, so CART cancelled the Indy Lights. The current series was founded in 2002 by the Indy Racing League. It initially struggled to attract drivers and some races had fewer than ten entrants. However, with the introduction of road courses in 2005 and a boost in prize money in 2006, drivers like Marco Andretti and Phil Giebler were attracted to compete in the Indy Lights championships part-time, expanding the field to twenty or more cars in every race in 2007. As the spec car (a Dallara with a Nissan VRH35 engine) had been used since INDYCAR established the series in 2002, the number of drivers has decreased again with just nine drivers competing the entire season and so far eight other drivers running three or less races. A new Dallara IL-15 with an Advanced Engine Research 2-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder engine will be the specification starting in 2015.
Tier 4 – Pro Mazda Championship
The Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires has been a racing driver development series since 2011, when it became governed by Indy Racing League, although the original series started in 1991 as the Star Mazda Championship. Drivers currently use Formula Mazda cars built by Star Race Cars with a 250 hp Mazda 'Renesis' rotary engine and Cooper tires.
Tier 5 – U.S. F2000
Cooper Tires presents the U.S. F2000 National Championship powered by Mazda is an American variation of the Formula Ford. The series was initially founded by Dan Andersen and Mike Foschi in 1990 and regularly fielded over 60 entries per race. In 2001, the series was sold to Jon Baytos who introduced a number of controversial rule changes that brought the series out of alignment with similar SCCA classes, which led to a reduction in participation and the end of the series in 2006. In 2010, the series returned under the leadership of Andersen with the intent to return F2000 to its status as a feeder formula for higher open wheel racing classes in the United States.
Tier 1 – Super Formula
The Super Formula, a.k.a. Formula Nippon, can be seen as the Japanese Formula One. It began as the Japanese Formula 2000 series in 1973 and continued to use Formula 2 regulations after the European Formula 2 had ended in 1984. In 1987 the series switched to the Formula 3000 standard, so that Japanese and European regulations paralleled one another again. However, in 1996, the International Formula 3000 series became a one-make format to reduce costs and the Japanese Formula broke away, changing the series' name to Formula Nippon. Until recently, Formula Nippon was an open formula – chassis were supplied by Lola, Reynard and G-Force, while Mugen-Honda supplied most engines. However, in 2001/02 G-Force and Reynard withdrew and the series once again followed F3000's lead in becoming a one-make series. In 2006, the regulations were changed drastically – the chassis was replaced and the engines provided by Toyota and Honda had the same specifications as the engines used in the 2005 IndyCar Series.
Tier 4 – All-Japan Formula Three
See: Formula Three
Tier 5 – Formula Challenge Japan
The Formula Challenge Japan (FCJ) is promoted as a young driver development project jointly by Honda, Toyota and Nissan. It replaced the Formula Dream. The first season was in 2006 and carried on from the defunct Formula Dream series. Each participant needs to be younger than 26 years old and possess a National A racing license, but not having raced in Formula Three or above. The cars run on a Tatuus chassis, Dunlop and a 200 hp 2.0L engine, similar to that of a Formula Renault 2.0 car. As of 2009, the series supports the Formula Nippon. In 2015, the series will be replaced with Japan Formula 4.
Formula series below Tier 5
- ADAC Formel Masters
- Atlantic Championship
- China Formula Grand Prix
- EuroBOSS Series
- Florida Winter Series
- Formula 1000
- Formula 4
- Formula 4 Sudamericana
- Formula 4000 powered by Holden
- Formula 500
- Formula Acceleration 1
- Formula Atlantic
- Formula BMW
- Formula Car Challenge
- Formula Continental
- Formula Ford
- Formula Ford 1600
- Formula LGB Hyundai
- Formula LGB Swift
- Formula Maruti
- Formula Masters China
- Formula SAE
- Formula SCCA
- Formula Student
- Formula Vee
- Formula Volkswagen South Africa Championship
- French F4 Championship
- Italian F4 Championship
- Masters Historic Formula One Championship
- Monoposto Racing Club
- Toyota Racing Series
Formula series from the 21st century that could be categorised between Tier 1 and Tier 5 (see top of page), but are now defunct, are described below.
Formula Two (1947–85, 2009–12)
The Formula Two regulations were first defined in 1947 as a form of B-class below Formula One. It was not unusual for some Formula One events to include a number of F2 entries in the same field and the entries in the World Championship seasons of 1952–53 comprised exclusively F2 cars for reasons of cost. F2 had a patchy history until the inauguration of the European Formula Two Championship in 1967. F2 was an open formula that allowed the use of any chassis that met the prescribed regulations; it was well supported during the 1970s, with chassis from Tecno, March Engineering, Toleman, Ralt, Matra and others. The European championship ran continually until the creation of its successor, Formula 3000, in 1985. In 2008 it was announced by the FIA that Formula Two would return in 2009 in the form of the FIA Formula Two Championship. This series was discontinued after the 2012 season.
Formula 3000 (1985–2004)
The Formula 3000 was created by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile in 1985 to become the final step for drivers before entering Formula One. Formula Two had become too expensive and was dominated by works-run cars with factory engines. Formula 3000 offered quicker, cheaper,more open racing. The series began as an open formula, but in 1986 tires were standardized, followed by engines and chassis in 1996. The series ran until 2004 and was replaced in 2005 by the GP2 Series.
International Formula Master (2005–09)
International Formula Master, a.k.a. Formula Super 2000, was conceived as a competitor for Formula Three. It started in 2005 as the 3000 Pro Series, organised by Peroni Promotion. MTC Organisation took over in 2006 and turned it into a support series for the WTCC. Drivers used second-hand Formula 2000 cars made by Tatuus that were powered by a 250 hp Honda K20A engine.
A1 Grand Prix (2005–09)
A1 Grand Prix (A1GP) was unique in its field in that competitors solely represented their nation as opposed to themselves or a team, the usual format in most formula racing series. As such, it was often promoted as the "World Cup of Motorsport". Also, the series attracted equal numbers of (former or future) Formula One drivers and IndyCar Series drivers. The concept was founded by Sheikh Al Maktoum of Dubai in 2004, but sold to the FIA in 2005. The races were held in the traditional Formula One off-season, the northern hemisphere winter. Between 2005 and 2009 29 countries from five continents participated.
Superleague Formula (2008–11)
Using 750 hp V12 engines, Superleague Formula introduced team sponsorship by association football clubs. In qualifying, the link with football was also present as the series employed a system based on a group stage to knock-out format used in some football tournaments. Another unique feature of Superleague Formula was the Super Final, a five lap shootout between the six best drivers of a weekend. In 2010, the series offered the biggest prize fund in European motorsport with the champion set to earn €1 million. In theory, it would be possible for a driver to earn up to €2.2 million over the course of the season. This was all done to give drivers a chance to earn a living from motorsport. By 2011, the link with football was fading with more than half the teams no longer associated with football teams, The later races of the season did not take place, and no further seasons were organised.
Formula Dream (1999–2005)
Formula V6 Asia (2006–09)
Formula Asia V6 (Renault) was launched in 2006 to give Southeast Asian-based drivers a chance to progess from karting through junior single seaters to international motorsport. Karun Chandhok, for example, won the 2006 championship and was rewarded with a test in a World Series by Renault car at Paul Ricard. Drivers ran with Tatuus chassis, a Renault 3.5L V6 engine and Michelin tires.
Notes and references
- British F3 Champions From motorsportsetc.com. Retrieved on August 28, 2007.
- Formula Two From formula2.net. Retrieved on August 28, 2007.