|Constructors||Élan Motorsport Technologies|
|Last Drivers' champion||John Martin|
|Last Teams' champion||Australia|
Superleague Formula was an open wheel single seater motor racing formula, which started in 2008, at Donington Park in the United Kingdom. The league introduced team sponsorship by association football clubs. It goes by the saying 'The Beautiful Race: Football at 300 km/h'. By 2011 the link with football was fading with more than half the teams no longer associated with football teams. It was founded by businessmen Alex Andreu and Robin Webb. On 19 May 2010, Andreu stepped down in his role as series president, with his successor named as Alfredo Brisac not many weeks later. The season runs between April and November at the same time as most other European race series. Every team uses identical cars and 750-horsepower V-12 engines. The Sonangol Group was the series' title sponsor from June 2009 until the end of the 2010 season.
The future of the championship is in doubt after the cancellation of over three-quarters of 2011 season events. In April 2012, when most European motor racing starts, however, there has been no news or information regarding the possibility of a 2012 or 2013 season running, putting into serious doubt the future of Superleague Formula.
- 1 History
- 2 Race format
- 3 Entrants
- 4 Circuits
- 5 Drivers and teams
- 6 Broadcasting and media
- 7 Future
- 8 Technology
- 9 Other ventures
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Continuing the concept of Premier 1 Grand Prix, the Superleague Formula was announced in 2005, receiving the full approval of the FIA in December 2005. The goal was to have a starting grid of twenty teams, each with one car. Much of the sales, marketing and technology work would be handled centrally by the league, thus affording a considerable cost-savings to the teams.
The inaugural season, in 2008, was won by Chinese club Beijing Guoan, driven by Italian FIA GT Championship racer, Davide Rigon. The season consisted of six double-headers, featuring 18 clubs, and also brought victories for Liverpool F.C., A.C. Milan, PSV Eindhoven, F.C. Porto, Sevilla FC, Al Ain and Borussia Dortmund. Superleague Formula's debut race was seen in 62 countries, and 100,000 people watched the twelve races, with 34,000 fans attending the last race in Jerez, broadcast live in 70 countries.
In 2009, the second season was won by English club Liverpool F.C., driven by Spanish racer Adrián Vallés. The season consisted of six double-headers, featuring 19 clubs, and brought first victories for Tottenham Hotspur, FC Basel 1893, Rangers F.C., Olympiacos CFP, Sporting CP, R.S.C. Anderlecht and Galatasaray S.K.. This was the first season to feature the Super Final format, adding a six car shootout to four of the six rounds. The races were broadcast in 62 countries to a reach of 100 million people.
2010 was the third season and saw the biggest change yet, with the calendar increased from six to twelve race weekends and another increase to both race event and end-of-season prize money hand-outs. An average of 18 clubs competed at each event throughout the season. In a pre-season interview, Superleague Formula's Competition Director Robin Webb said,
|“||The new prize fund offers drivers and teams an even greater incentive to top the Superleague Formula table come November. I can’t think of anything else in Europe that offers this level of prize money for the winners, not to mention for individual races as in the Super Final’s case. All in all, the series really does now offer drivers the chance to earn a living from motor sport, something that’s not possible in single seater racing outside of Formula 1.||”|
After its biggest growth in 2010, 2011 saw a significant contraction with just six football clubs continuing their association into the series fourth season. The remaining cars carried national identities with many more closely associated with the competing drivers rather than any football connection. While an ambitious calendar was announced, several races were cancelled and relocated and as late as September organisers were still seeking to confirm some of its late season races, leaving doubt as to whether the series will have more than half the races of the 2010 season.
Many months after the cancellation of the 2011 Chinese rounds, there have been no news reports on the 2012 season. With many drivers and teams having joined other series, as well as no updates from the Superleague Formula website, the series looks in trouble, after just four seasons of racing.
Superleague Formula’s race format incorporates a Saturday qualification and races on Sunday, one with a reverse grid. For each round, the competing teams will compete for prize money, plus points in a yearly championship.
- Saturday: 45-minute free practice session, qualifying and rookie session.
- Sunday: Two 45-minute races (one with reverse grid).
- €1 million prize money per race weekend.
New in 2009
- Saturday: Two 45-minute free practice sessions, 1 hour rookie session and qualifying.
- Sunday: Two '44-minute plus a lap' races (the latter with reverse grid).
- Compulsory pit stop in Races 1 and 2 which must be made between laps 8 and 20. Both races feature a rolling start.
- A third, 5 lap 'Super Final' race in 4 of the 6 events in which the weekend's top six cars/drivers, found based on their combined points scores from the first two races, race to decide a 'Weekend Winner' and the distribution of prize money. This race begins with a standing start.
- €333,000 prize money to share per race weekend, including €5,000 for Race 1 pole position and €3,000, €2,000 and €1,000 for the three podium positions in the first two races as well as overall weekend prize money for the top 20 cars by performance, the most one club can get per weekend is €111,000.
New in 2010
- Race and qualifying format is largely unchanged from the 2009 season, although practice sessions have moved to Friday.
- There is now a 'Super Final' race at the end of all twelve events instead of just at select weekends, and will now count for points.
- The series now offers the biggest prize fund in European motorsport with the end-of-season champions set to earn €1 million in prize money. €500,000 will go to second place and €250,000 to the third place entry. Over €5 million in total will be dished out throughout 2010, with €100,000 going to the 'Weekend Winner' of each of the twelve rounds. It is therefore possible for an entry to earn up to €2.2 million over the course of the season.
- Drivers now need to finish a race, not only start, in order to score points.
Superleague Formula employs a unique qualifying system based on a group stage to knock-out format used in some football tournaments:
- There is a draw on the Friday to split cars in Group A and Group B
- No refueling or tyre changing can take place during the qualifying
- Each group in turn has a 15-minute (2008-2009)/10-minute (2010) session to try to be in the fastest four in that group
- Five slowest from the group of the fastest driver go 9th, 11th, 13th, 15th, 17th on the grid
- Five slowest from the other group go 10th, 12th, 14th, 16th, 18th on the grid
- Quarter Final 1: first from fastest group versus fourth from slowest: single flying lap: loser goes 8th on the grid
- Quarter Final 2: first from slowest group versus fourth from fastest: single flying lap: loser goes 7th on the grid
- Quarter Final 3: second from fastest group versus third from slowest: single flying lap: loser goes 6th on the grid
- Quarter Final 4: second from slowest group versus third from fastest: single flying lap: loser goes 5th on the grid
- Semi Final 1: winner from quarter final 1 versus winner from quarter final 4: single flying lap: loser goes 4th on the grid
- Semi Final 2: winner from quarter final 2 versus winner from quarter final 3: single flying lap: loser goes 3rd on the grid
- Final: single flying lap: loser goes 2nd on the grid, winner gets pole position
The championship is decided by points, which are awarded according to the position in which a driver classifies at the end of each race, of which there are three per race weekend. The points are allocated as follows:
- Race 1 and 2 points
- Super Final points (since 2010)
For the first two seasons the driver did not need to finish the race in order to collect points, but did have to start. However in 2010 a driver needs to start and finish the race in order to score. The same points are awarded for Race 1 as Race 2, despite Race 2 having a reverse grid with the slowest given the advantage at the front. In 2009 began the running of a third race, a 'Super Final', at the end of certain weekends, however no points were awarded this race. As a result, the maximum number of points any football club/driver could score in one round during 2008 or 2009 was 100, by winning both main races. This feat wasn't achieved although Sébastien Bourdais, Craig Dolby, Robert Doornbos and Max Wissel all scored 90 points in a weekend by finishing either 2nd and 2nd or 1st and 3rd.
In 2010 however, with the Super Final also counting for points and 6 points going to the winner, the maximum points haul is now 106, achieved by winning all three races during the weekend. The current record is 92 points, held by Craig Dolby from the 2010 Silverstone Superleague Formula round.
Each Superleague Formula car represents a football club or national team.
Twenty-three football clubs and ten country-represented cars have started at least one race in Superleague Formula, and all are listed in the table below:
|Americas||Asia / Oceania||Europe|
|bold represents an active entry in the 2011 season|
A typical circuit usually features a stretch of straight road on which the starting grid is situated. The pit lane, where the drivers stop for fuel and tyres during the race, and where the teams work on the cars before the race, is normally located next to the starting grid. The layout of the rest of the circuit varies widely, although in most cases the circuit runs in a clockwise direction.
All of the circuits currently in use are specially constructed for competition. All of the rounds are held in Europe, but discussions are taking place to have rounds outside of Europe. In total, 15 different circuits from 8 countries have hosted a race weekend. The first to do so was Donington Park, where the first races, at its 2008 round, were held. Only Circuit Zolder has hosted races in every season until now.
In July 2010, it was announced that the series would race for the first time outside of Europe by having two events in two successive weekends in China on 3 & 10 October that same year. Robin Webb described the venture as "a significant moment in the championship’s history".
Drivers and teams
Notable drivers and teams
Broadcasting and media
Fans globally are able to view the championship on national TV channels or via live streaming from the Superleague Formula website. Video highlights of every race from every weekend are also available for streaming from their website. Superleague Formula is also praised for its comprehensive series coverage on YouTube, where it uploads qualifying and race highlights, driver interviews and news events, which is a service that no other major racing series offers.
Superleague Formula has an extensive web following, with most major motorsport website and publications such as Autosport covering the series. The Superleague Formula website is the official website for Superleague Formula, and has a live timing Java applet that can be used during the race to keep up with the leaderboard in real time. The series also operates several official social networking websites for its fans, including Twitter and Facebook.
The organisers of Superleague Formula are looking to expand and evolve the sport very quickly with up to 18 races by 2012 and the possibility of a separate street race series so the fans can get up close to the cars and drivers. They are also considering introducing new classes of racing within the series in the idea of football 'divisions'.
In June 2009, Robin Webb stated he wanted the formula to eventually increase to 26 cars and a more diverse range of circuits. He expects the formula to attract more big global clubs and was keen to promote the idea that "Superleague Formula combines the passion of football with the thrill of auto racing".
- PSV Eindhoven has a contract with Superleague Formula until 2013. The contract includes the condition that they will only race if they are the sole club entrant from the Netherlands. Fellow Dutch football giants AFC Ajax have said that even come 2013 they have little wish to venture into motorsport pointing out that they would have no control over the running of their car in the series and that they are primarily a football club.
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The cars were built by Panoz Auto Development under the Élan Motorsport Technologies banner and officially named the Panoz DP09. They are powered by 750 bhp, 4.2 litre, V12 engines designed by US-owned Menard Competition Technologies. Élan previously manufactured the Panoz DP01 for the Champ Car series, as well as cars for other championships.
The chassis was built on a two-metre wide track, using under-body aerodynamics to create the needed conditions for increased overtaking opportunities. The cars were subjected to the lengthy FIA safety tests during development stages in 2007.
- Carbon fibre tub for extreme strength/lightness
- Under-body aerodynamics to facilitate nose-to-tail driving/overtaking
- Hewland 6 speed LSFA gearbox with Hewland semi-automatic system
- Pi “SIGMA” based dashboard / data logging system
- ‘Slick’ racing style tyres with no grooves or tread
- Weight Target: 750 kg
- Wheels supplied by OZ Racing and tyres by Michelin
- Brembo and Pi Research provide the brakes and electronics, respectively
- No of Cylinders: 12
- Capacity: 4.2 litres
- Configuration: 60 degrees V formation
- Weight: 140 kg (308 lb) Dry
- Peak Power: 750 bhp (560 kW) @ 11,750 rpm
- Maximum RPM: 12,000
- Peak Torque: 510 N·m (376 ft·lb) @ 9,500-10,500
- The cars are driven without the aid of traction control, launch control or anti-stall, leaving a lot down to the skill of the driver.
- Michelin have been the sole tyre supplier in Superleague Formula since 2008. Cars are allowed four new sets of tyres throughout a race weekend, lasting practice sessions, qualifying and all the races. Under conditions of rain, there is no limit to how many sets of wet tyres that can be used.
- A new 'Push to Pass' button is fitted to cars for 2010. The idea, previously successful in A1 Grand Prix, gives the car 12,000rpm for a minimum of 15 seconds, 1,000rpm more than the normal rev limit of 11,000rpm. Drivers can use the extra horsepower advantage to attempt to overtake another car. After the 15 seconds, the 'power boost' will stop once the car's revs drop back to below 9,000rpm. The 'Push to Pass' button can be used a maximum of eight times by a driver during both races. After a period on the 'power boost', the extra power option is unavailable for 120 seconds. The 'Push to Pass' option is not available during practice sessions or qualifying.
At Magny-Cours in 2009, the best qualifying time for a Superleague Formula car was 1:26.391, almost 11.5 seconds slower than the fastest qualifying time for an F1 car in 2008 of 1:15.024. Both Superleague Formula and Formula One raced at Monza in 2009 where similar dry qualifying conditions meant a better time comparison was possible. The fastest F1 time at the 2009 Italian Grand Prix was a 1:22.955, whereas at the 2009 Monza Superleague Formula round, a month later, the fastest SF time was 1:36.444, 13.5 seconds slower. This makes the speed of Superleague Formula car comparable to the World Series by Renault cars.
On 14 January 2010, Menard Competition Technologies received a Motorsport Industry Association’s award for Technology and Innovation for its "outstanding design and engineering work undertaken on the Superleague V12 racing engine".
A video game for Superleague Formula was made by Media Game and Image Space Incorporated and released for PC on 31 October 2009, although it was originally announced to be released in September. The game, released for download by the series' official website, features 18 clubs and 6 circuits from in the 2009 season. During the 2009 Donington round some star drivers tested out the new game, giving it positive feedback.
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- Blatter, Erwin (19 June 2009). "PSV verlengt verbintenis met Superleague Formula". ED (in Dutch) (Wegener NieuwsMedia). Retrieved 2010-01-19.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Superleague Formula.|
- Superleague Formula Official Website
- V12 Racing: Independent Superleague Formula Fansite Magazine
- Superleague Formula at thenewsmarket.com
- Superleague Formula Official Facebook Fan Page
- Superleague Formula Official Twitter Fan Page
- Superleague Formula Official Youtube Channel