Prospects for Formula Two

Interesting engine developments

The new Formula Two came into being on January 1st of this year and will remain in force until December 31st 1971, which means that we will have five full seasons of racing for this new category. As its title suggests it is intended that this new category of racing cars should be a minor league to the more important Formula One, or Grand Prix category. For this reason there are numerous restrictive rules both as regards car construction and competitors, these rules being intended to keep Formula Two as a stepping stone to the 3-litre cars of Formula One and Grand Prix racing.

Engines for Formula Two are limited to a maximum capacity of 1600 c.c. and a minimum of 1,300 c.c., and the cylinder block must come from a homologated production car of which at least 500 examples have been made within 22 months. There is a limit of a maximum of six cylinders, but this limitation can be changed by the F.I.A. if there are three or more production cars homologated with more than six cylinders and a capacity not exceeding 2,000 c.c. If it is deemed desirable to change the limit of the number of cylinders at any time it will not come into force until the following January. Having got your production cylinder block you can reduce the capacity to 1,600 c.c. by a reduction in bore or stroke or both, and almost any other modifications are permitted, though there is a limit of two camshafts per line of cylinders and the system (i.e. plain or roller) of bearings for the crankshaft and rods must not be changed. No supercharging is allowed but fuel injection may be used, either direct or indirect, and the basic cooling method must remain the same (i.e. air or water). There is a clause to permit "special engines" which includes the N.S.U.-Wankel engine and turbines, providing they are basic production units, and the classifying of these types of engine are by a special formula to equate them to piston engines.

The cars are single-seaters to the standards of construction and safety as used for Formula One cars, and there is a minimum weight limit (starting line weight) of 420 kilogrammes or 924 lb. A maximum of five forward speeds is permitted and all cars must have a fully working reverse gear, while only two wheels may be driven, either the front pair or the back pair, but not all four.

The basic rules for this new Formula Two were drawn up at the end of the 1964 season, so that there was more than adequate warning and for once there was no wailing and moaning from the racing car constructors or engine designers and everyone got on with the job. The result has been that activity is very well advanced long before the first race is due to take place, which augurs well for the future of this Formula. It is particularly interesting for small manufacturers who cannot contemplate the cost and complexity of Formula One, and for engine manufacturers with similar limitations, while it is of interest to established Grand Prix car teams as a training ground for drivers and engineers for bigger and better things.

A European championship has been drawn up for this new Formula Two, to be known as the European Trophy, and there are thirteen events counting for points, the first being at the Snetterton meeting on Good Friday March 24th, closely followed by the B.A.R.C. meeting at Silverstone on Easter Monday March 27th. As mentioned last month this championship is only open to non-graded drivers, or in other words, minor league drivers, though the big names can compete in the individual events. This may well mean that at the end of the season the F.2 champion driver is someone who never finished higher than 6th or 7th in a race, but at least it will stop the professional Grand Prix drivers from monopolising everything.

Already constructors are well advanced and the first race should see a good turnout of new machinery. Mainstay of the British teams and the private owners is going to be the new Cosworth-Ford engine, mated to a new Hewland 5-speed gearbox, this complete power/ transmission pack being available to anyone with sufficient money, and already the first units have been on test and early customers are getting delivery so that the first race should see a preponderance of Cosworth-Hewland units in the entry. Lotus, Lola, Brabham, Cooper and McLaren cars are all using this power pack, as are Matra and no doubt any other small manufacturer that wants to join in. The Cosworth engine is designed around the Ford Cortina five-main-bearing cylinder block and Ford (England) are strongly behind the project, with money and materials and the cambox has FORD cast into it, while Cosworth rivet on a plate saying that the engine has been designed and developed by them for the Ford Motor Company. In the very early days of development Keith Duckworth and Mike Costin estimated that 195 b.h.p. would be available from this 1,600 c.c. power unit, and by the time the production engines were being assembled well over 200 b.h.p. was being developed. A production run of 40 engines was laid down and they have all been sold, the price being £2,500 each. The alloy cylinder head has four valves per cylinder, arranged in a vee-shaped or pent-roof combustion chamber with two inlet and two exhaust and each row of valves is operated directly by an overhead camshaft, with inverted-piston tappets between cam and valve. The two camshafts are driven by a train of straight-cut gears from the front of the crankshaft, while a further gear-train on the rear of the camshafts drive auxiliaries such as alternator and fuel-injection metering unit, there being a cog-belt drive between the actual metering unit and the gear-train. Sparking plugs are 10 mm. and are sunk down between the camshafts in deep tubular tunnels in the one-piece camshaft cover. Semi-downdraught inlet ports are used and a Lucas-Cosworth injection system is used, with sliding-plate throttle slide, the injectors squirting onto the throttle slide.

A prototype engine was fitted to a Brabham chassis last year and Mike Costin drove the car in numerous club meetings, recording some impressive victories, so that by the time the production engines were delivered to the customers Cosworth could truly say that it was a race-proved engine.

In Germany the B.M.W. firm in Munich have been taking a keen interest in competition and as the successful 1800 and 2000 B.M.W. saloons put the firm back on its feet, and the 1600 saloon was introduced, they became more and more interested in racing. This year they are running a factory team of two cars, to be driven by Hubert Hahne and Joseph Siffert, and an agreement has been readied between Lola and B.M.W. no doubt greatly assisted by John Surtees who has always been very friendly with B.M.W. and who has more than a passing interest in Eric Broadley and the Lola firm. B.M.W. have developed a Formula Two engine and Lola have a sound F.2 chassis so they have got together with the result that the factory B.M.W. team will use their engine in a Lola chassis, and the factory Lola team will use a B.M.W. engine in their chassis, driven by John Surtees. F.2 Lola cars for sale will use the production Cosworth engine. The B.M.W. engine is designed around the production 1,600 c.c. cylinder block and like Cosworth they have developed an alloy cylinder head with four valves per cylinder and two overhead camshafts, but there the similarity ends. This new head is designed by Ludwig Apfelbeck, an Austrian designer who has been with B.M.W. for a long time, and he has arranged his four valves in a hemispherical combustion chamber, so that the valve stems stick out radially. The inlet valves lie fore and aft, along the axis of the 4-cylinder engine so that there are two downdraught inlet passages, and the exhaust valves lie across the cylinder axis, with an exhaust port on each side of the head. The exhaust valves are operated directly by the two overhead camshafts and the inlet valves are operated from the same shafts by a system of rockers. Each of the eight inlet valves has its own port and Lucas fuel-injector unit, and there are four exhaust ports on each side of the cylinder head. At the moment there are two versions of this interesting cylinder head in being, one with the inlet valves lying along the centre-line of the engine, as shown in the accompanying illustration, and the other with the combustion chamber rotated some degrees off the centre-line so that one exhaust port points slightly forwards and the other slightly rearwards, and it now appears that the latter is the more promising. The first of these radial four-valve heads was built on a 2-litre block and installed in a Brabham chassis, and during last season it made frequent successful attacks on the standing start quarter-mile and 500 metres records, as well as running in some German hill-climbs. Using special racing fuels this 2-litre engine has developed 290 b.h.p. (145 b.h.p. per litre) and it is expected that the 1,600 c.c. version, running on straight petrol, will give 225 b.h.p. The combination of Lola on chassis and road-holding, and B.M.W. on engine should prove very interesting and a strong competitor for the various cars using Cosworth engines.

Before B.M.W. announced that they would be running a factory team in Formula Two it was generally thought that Porsche would be interested in this class of single-seater racing. This idea was encouraged by the fact that the flat 6-cylinder 911 Porsche engine was in full-scale production and the 911 car has been homologated not only as a GT car (500 off) but also as a Group 2 touring car (1,000 off). Suitably reduced from its present 2,000 c.c. to 1,600 c.c. the flat-six air-cooled Porsche engine, with its overhead camshaft and rocker-operated inclined valve heads, would appear a very likely unit for Formula Two, and some of the better known British teams were making enquiries in Stuttgart last year. However, Porsche say that as B.M.W. will be upholding German prestige in Formula Two racing they will not be running a factory team, preferring to concentrate their efforts on Group 4 and Group 6 two-seater long-distance racing. This may be so at the moment but it would not surprise me if Porsche either decided that B.M.W. needed support, or that they should not be allowed to take all the credit for German successes in single-seater racing !

In Italy Ferrari is definitely interested in Formula Two racing and went to Fiat for help. The help he needed was the ability to put a suitable engine into full production so that its cylinder block could form the basis of a Formula Two engine. Needless to say Ferrari had a suitable engine in the V6 four overhead camshaft 2-litre Dino engine which he had been racing in Prototype racing and hill-climbs. Fiat have designed a car to take this engine and have already produced 500 cars, with a second batch of 500 under way, so Ferrari can now produce a 1,600 c.c. V6 four camshaft engine for his Formula Two car. Last year he developed a new cylinder head for the Dino, with two inlet and one exhaust valve per cylinder, with the inlet ports running down between the camshafts on each bank of cylinders, this engine being illustrated.

There is never a shortage of chassis designers and builders but quite often a shortage of engine builders, but with this new Formula Two there is a sufficiency of both so that the first season looks like being very interesting and competitive. Alfa Romeo are running a 2-litre V8-engined prototype sports car this year, and Abarth is experimenting with a V8 engine so it only wants someone like Honda to put a V8 engine into production and in two or three years' time we might see a new batch of 8-cylinder engines for Formula Two. Whatever happens the last two years of this new Formula should be most interesting, for engine development is already at an advanced state and we have not yet started racing.—D. S. J.