Inside the world’s safest FIA Formula 4 car
Next season marks a shift in the dynamic of Britain’s version of the FIA’s global Formula 4 concept with the introduction of the second-generation F4 car.
Built by renowned Italian manufacturers Tatuus and powered by a 1.4-litre, turbocharged Abarth power unit, the adoption of Europe’s most successful chassis-engine combination alongside the introduction of Pirelli control tyres will provide the next generation of rising stars with a package designed to optimise driver development.
With Motorsport UK striving to go above and beyond the mandatory safety features introduced with the latest generation car, British F4 can also lay claim to being the safest single seater category of its kind anywhere worldwide.
To get you up to speed, we’ve picked out several key features of the new-for-2022 car set to further position the F4 British Championship certified by FIA as a global leader on the first step of the FIA’s Single-Seater Pathway.
Halo cockpit protection device
Since its introduction to Formula 1 and other top-line FIA championships from 2018, the Halo cockpit crash-protection system has been widely credited for having a positive impact in advancing safety standards in professional motorsport.
After a seven-year lifespan for the previous homologated FIA Formula 4 chassis that pre-dates development of the Halo, the introduction of the second-generation car will mark the first time this feature has formed a compulsory part of the F4 car.
With driver safety of paramount importance, series organisers Motorsport UK were quick to confirm their adoption of the second-generation car featuring a halo cockpit device, and British F4 will be the only category running F4 cars in the UK to offer this advanced safety feature to drivers in 2022.
On-board safety signalling systems
British Touring Car Championship organiser TOCA has developed a new on-board safety system in partnership with Timing Solutions Ltd., long-term timing and scoring partner of the UK’s premier tin-top category.
British F4 was one of the first support categories to commit to adopting the new electronics, which will complement trackside safety systems such as marshals by displaying light panels and flag warnings onto a driver’s steering wheel display inside the cockpit of each car.
As well as displaying the full range of marshalling flags, the system has the capability to warn competitors of the deployment of the Safety Car, and can provide car-specific warnings, for example a driving standards flag with the accompanying competitor number.
In addition to providing Race Control with a direct link to drivers, the system also allows for enhancing monitoring of infringements such as speeding in the pit lane, overtaking under the Safety Car, or failing to slow appropriately for yellow and red flags, enhancing event safety on several fronts.
One area of specific focus in the development of the second-generation car has been the side anti-intrusion panel, designed to minimise any side-on impact to the chassis and a key component of the central survival cell in which the driver is situated.
As an example of the evolution, the Gen2 challenger is capable of withstanding a minimum of 250kN of force, compared to 150kN for the previous iteration of the car. This has been proven by impact testing the car with a force equal to 25 tonnes.
Pirelli control tyres
Last month, Pirelli were unveiled as the official tyre supplier to British F4 from 2022 onwards, with the introduction of the Italian brand forming a key cornerstone of Motorsport UK’s objective to aid driver progression to the higher categories.
Pirelli’s tyres are currently utilised at each subsequent step on the FIA’s Single-Seater Pathway through to Formula 1, ensuring that drivers graduating to British F4 from karting or other junior formulae will have relevant, race-proven experience to draw upon as their career progresses.
The continued use of control tyres also helps to ensure competitive parity between all cars, putting the emphasis on driver and team ability to achieve success in the category.
Europe’s winning chassis-engine formula
Tatuus have been an industry leader in the FIA Formula 4 market over the concept’s first generation, including chassis supply to the German, Italian, Spanish and UAE categories.
On each of those occasions, the outgoing Tatuus TF-014 car has featured powertrains supplied by Abarth, making it the most successful chassis-engine combination on the continent and beyond. In adopting both for the new era of British F4 from 2022, the series has been brought in line with the industry gold standard.
This will also allow for greater mobility between Formula 4 championships, with teams and drivers able to make guest appearances without making any serious alterations to their core package.
British F4 will also retain the services of Neil Brown Engineering, the engine tuner having played a crucial part in achieving remarkable technical parity between cars since their introduction in 2019.