It’s so exciting! Formula Renault 3.5 yesterday revealed a new car for the 2012 season. It will add only a small amount to the teams’ budgets while giving a potential two extra seconds per lap. This will bring their speed a lot closer to the GP2 cars: they are currently quite a bit slower than the slowest GP2 lap times.
They will still use Renault engines, of course, but a V8 rather than a V6. They will have an updated version of the Dallara chassis, and include a DRS system. The battery has been removed, meaning that the car will not have a starter and that it is the first single-seater to not have a battery. The cars will overall be 15kg lighter with 34% more downforce.
Tyres will be provided for the series by the current supplier, Michelin, who are developing a set of compounds for the series.
The car will be tested in conjunction with Romain Grosjean of the DAMS GP2 team (and more importantly, the Renault F1 team). It will be unveiled at Silverstone in August when the series races there.
Having a DRS on the car is a good way to prepare drivers for the system used in F1. This must be partly an attempt to get more F1 teams to take their drivers directly from the series as opposed to GP2.
Meanwhile, according to Autosport magazine it seems the GP2 Asia series is likely to be dropped. In its inaugural season it had as many races as the main series, but in 2010 there were two races in Abu Dhabi and two at Bahrain. The 2011 series was messed up completely.
Having two series is complicated and unnecessarily expensive for the teams, having to sign drivers for two separate series. It is likely that the GP2 series will instead expand outside of Europe to do one or two flyaway races – at India or Singapore, or perhaps with a double-header with Abu Dhabi and Bahrain. In that case, of course, the races wouldn’t always be supporting F1.