This weekend, Formula 2 drivers competed in their usual two races ahead of Formula One’s French Grand Prix. And while fans on Twitter were lauding the competition as being better than F1, the drivers in the series think otherwise.
F2 is a one-make spec series. Every team received cars a Dallara chassis, a V8 engine, and Pirelli tires, and the 2018 mélange was introduced brand-new at the start of this season. It seems like it should be a pretty straightforward situation, that the best drivers would be able to show their mettle in a level playing field. But when mechanical trouble is plaguing every car on the grid, when teams are almost entirely out of control to solve those problems, how can anyone be expected to actually, y’know, race?
After race two this Sunday morning, Trident driver Arjun Maini expressed his discontent in a frankly poignant way via radio:
He’s not the only one to have suffered. Two drivers took to the pits before the formation lap of race two. Three drivers couldn’t even get off the start line, plagued by a continuing problem with the clutch that has yet to be resolved. And two other drivers fell victim to mechanical issues during the race.
Sure, a lot of people might cast F2 off as being “just a feeder series”, but it’s gotta be frustrating. You spend your whole life and countless hundreds of thousands of dollars to end up looking like an amateur who can’t even start a race in front of all the F1 teams you hope you might be a part of one day—and it’s totally out of your hands.
Maini’s radio message is pretty hard to hear. And he’s just one of the many. If it only took five venues to break one driver, you can only imagine what’s going on behind the scenes.
Motorsport.com features a report about the situation, getting Maini’s first-hand response to his headspace and his struggles:
“They said there was a pipe that was melting, we replaced it for qualifying and it melted again. I had no straightline speed again compared to my teammate or anybody else.
“They said they fixed the problem, Race 1 I had no straightline speed again, and now we have to check the data but [in Race 2] I had no straightline speed again.
“I think a few others had the same issue as me, and some of the engines are pulling like crazy… It’s a joke, what’s going on in this championship right now.”
Maini went on to claim that the championship is just toying with their careers, which has got to be a pretty powerless feeling. And despite the complaints, the F2 Championship only had this to say:
“After we were made aware of Arjun Maini’s comments, we understand that he is complaining about an engine performance issue.
“Therefore, we are quite surprised that we have not received a request for an official power check made on a dyno.”
It seems like a kinda sleazy way to weasel out of taking the blame. But hopefully now, someone will make that official request so that F2 drivers stop feeling like the whole damn world is against them.