On The New Formula Two

When the F.I.A. announced that Formula Junior would finish at the end of 1963 and be replaced by two Formulae, one above and one below in technical standards to the existing Formula Junior, it seemed like a sound move. It meant that there would be two reasonable stepping-stones up the ladder of single-seater racing to the pinnacle of Formula One or Grand Prix racing. However, the detailed rules when announced seemed to leave something to be desired, for while Formula Three was all right, with its limit of 1,000 c.c. of push-rod or production engine with one carburetter, thereby restricting costs and development within reasonable bounds, the Formula Two details were not so good as an intermediate step between the bottom and the top of single-seater racing. Special racing engines with overhead camshafts were permitted and a free hand was given on chassis design and carburation, but the same capacity limit of 1,000 c.c. as Formula Three was given. Now 1,000 c.c. is the capacity of a decent motorcycle, so as a limit for a racing car that was supposed to represent a step towards Formula One it did not seem enough. It would probably have not been so had had not the F.I.A. allowed graded Grand Prix drivers of the calibre of Clark, Hill, Surtees, Gurney and so on to take part in Formula Two races, but having done so it not only ruled out any hope of up-and-coming drivers to enjoy the fruits of race-winning, but seemed a rather futile occupation for Grand Prix drivers to participate in when they could be driving Grand Prix Cars.

Nevertheless, Formula Two was launched, with a limit of four cylinders, 1,000 c.c., a minimum weight of 420 kilogrammes and no restriction on engine or gearbox design except for the use of normal petrol and the banning of superchargers. At first there did not seem to be much enthusiasm forthcoming for this new category, because in the main constructors did not know what to do about an engine. The only racing team in Formula One who can design and build racing engines are Ferrari and B.R.M., and both firms made it clear that they were not interested in Formula Two. From the Continent came news that the mighty French Renault concern were willing to provide engines for French constructors, and from Italy Abarth showed interest, and de Tomaso was prepared to have a go at anything; in England there was a dull pause, and though Lotus, Cooper and Brabham were prepared to build cars they had no engines. Fortunately the Cosworth Engineering concern of Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth were hard at work on a Formula Two engine, and when they pronounced it ready and for sale the British manufacturers were able to press forward, but until this time there seemed to be an hiatus. The Hewland Engineering concern were well able to supply gearboxes, so everything seemed set for the British onslaught on Formula Two to begin. While the Formula One teams of Lotus and Cooper were not to take an active part in Formula Two racing, they each had private concerns running Formula Junior teams with the parent factory's assistance, Ron Harris operating for Team Lotus and Ken Tyrell for Cooper, and both these chaps agreed to take over the Formula Two activities. There was only one drawback and that was that the Cosworth o.h.c. engine was based on a Ford 120E cylinder block, which was all right for Lotus but did not suit Cooper, who were closely tied to the British Motor Corporation. This difficulty was overcome when B.M.C. agreed to design and build twin o.h.c. engines for Cooper, so now the air was clearing rapidly, and with two French firms well on the way with their cars and others from Italy it seemed that Formula Two could become interesting, except for the fact that it looked like being dominated by Grand Prix drivers, instead of up-and-coming Formula Junior drivers as seemed to be the original intention.

The first race for Formula Two cars was due to be at the International Snetterton meeting, there being a sub-division in the Formula One race for these new little cars. Such a good entry of F.1 cars was received that the F.2 class was dropped, which was just as well for none of them were ready, and when a similar category was formed at Goodwood for the Easter Monday meeting this had to be scrubbed because of lack of entries. It was not until the Pau race on April 5th that this new Formula got under way, as is reported elsewhere in this issue. It is still early days to draw any definite conclusions, but at the moment it would seem to be a waste of effort having Jim Clark in a Formula Two car when he could so well be occupied in a Formula One car, or even better in a 4.2-litre Indianapolis car. It would seem to be equally fruitless barring Graham Hill, Jack Brabham, or, as would have happened if the B.M.C. engine had been ready, John Surtees, in these little 1,000-c.c. "kiddy-cars."

Forgetting this aspect for a moment, it is worth looking at Formula Two technically and as a class for the better Formula Three drivers to progress towards becoming Grand Prix drivers, which is presumably their aim in life. The cars that took part in the first race are described in the Pau report, and without doubt the Cosworth engine has the legs of the Renault engines. As Cosworth claim 116 b.h.p. and Renault 110 b.h.p., this would seem to agree, but Abarth is claiming 119 b.h.p., the truth of which only time will tell. With engine capacity limited to 1-litre, b.h.p./litre is a simple figure to compare, and the Cosworth figure of 116 does not compare with the average Formula One engines' 130 b.h.p./litre, but the little ones are limited to four cylinders, whereas the Grand Prix engines can use 8, 12, 16 or any number of cylinders. Cosworth are using a single overhead camshaft, gear-driven from the front of the crankshaft, and have all the valves in line in a completely smooth cylinder head face. The actual combustion space is formed in the top of the piston, which is the principle used on the new Rover 2000 engine. The very large bore of 81 mm. is used, with an incredibly short stroke of only 48.2 mm., giving a capacity of approximately 994.c.c., and this short stroke permits of high revs to be used, the 116 b.h.p. being developed at 9,500 r.p.m. Through a series of compromises a downdraught carburation system is used and the engine is canted over to the right, and the result is a very straight and direct inlet port. The exhaust ports are on the same side of the alloy head as the inlets, and the four pipes are paired before flowing into the tail-pipe. Weber 40DCM2 carburetters are used and single sparking plugs fired by coil ignition are used. The Ford cylinder block is fitted with Cosworth's own design of crankshaft, connecting-rods and bearings, and this bottom end was developed during Formula Junior days last year.

Just as the Cosworth-Ford push-rod engine was very successful in Formula Junior days, with occasional interference from Ford-Holbay and B.M.C. push-rod engines, it would seem that Cosworth have already got a good start with their Type SCA unit, though the twin-cam B.M.C. engine should prove interesting as long as it does not follow in the footsteps of the B.M.C. twin-cam M.G. engine.

The Renault engines used in the French cars are direct descendants from the engines used in Alpine and René Bonnet GT cars at Le Mans and elsewhere. Starting life as Renault Dauphine units, these 4-cylinder engines were developed by Amedee Gordini for Renault. He designed a twin-o.h.c. cylinder head very reminiscent of the engines in his Gordini cars of some years ago. The valves are at a wide angle and operated by separate inlet and exhaust camshafts, driving from the front of the engine, and single sparking plugs per cylinder, fired by coil ignition are sunk down long tubes in the one-piece camshaft cover. 110 b.h.p. is claimed at 8,500 r.p.m. using two double-choke Weber Carburetters, and it is likely that this will improve as the season progresses, for the resources of the Renault concern are pretty large.

The only other serious engine contender in this "kiddy-car" racing is Abarth, who is using a version of his 20-h.c. 4-cylinder engine as highly developed in his GT cars, so it is possible that these will give a good account of themselves, though much depends on the chassis design.

The future of Formula Two for 1964, at any rate, seems assured, and with professional teams such as Normand Racing, Ken Tyrell, Team Lotus. and Brabham taking part against Alpine, René Bonnet and Abarth, it could well turn out to be interesting, unless it is dominated by one concern employing Grand Prix drivers. Equally, if all the teams employ Grand Prix drivers then it will make all the efforts seem rather pointless.—D. S. J.