Some forty-five years after its inception, Ford has once again stepped up with an all-new 2012 specification Formula Ford car at the Frankfurt Motor Show yesterday.
The car, to be initially introduced in next season’s British Formula Ford Championship, will mark a significant increase in the usage of road car technologies in the formula.
Included in the upgrade is the latest production-based 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine direct injection turbo-charged engine, linked to a 6-speed sequential gearbox, amongst other elements that represent an advance in performance for the category.
Rather than fall into a single-spec category as with many of its rival championships, Formula Ford will retain chassis design and engine build freedom (within reason).
This freedom has, over the years, allowed the development of increased technical standards from teams and drivers – an element many consider essential when guiding young talent behind the wheel, while they learn the fundamentals of car racing.
An important aspect of the design is its compliance to the latest FIA safety standards. With its newly drawn tubular steel frame, the formula opens itself up to new markets previously restricted by differing technical regulations.
Improvements, such as front and rear carbon crash structures, side intrusion panels, FIA specification head restraint system, wheel tethers and an FIA removable seat have been implemented into the new machine making it the first in a single seat racer to comply with the latest, stringent FIA safety standards.
Once the new machine has been successfully bedded into the British and European series’, the formula is to be spread globally, with an eye on still untapped markets.
Alignment with the latest FIA regulations will finally create worldwide parity for this type of formula – especially in emerging territories where compliance to the latest FIA specifications is regularly practiced.
This step may go someway to establishing Formula Ford championships across markets such as the Middle East, Asia and Eastern Europe, where Formula 1 is currently trying to garner a foothold.
With trickles of racers beginning to filter through from territories such as China, Malaysia and Bahrain, the new Formula Ford chassis may be the bridge the creates a more solidified link for emerging talent.
Formula Ford has been a remarkable stepping stone from karts for many top level competitors including Jenson Button and Mark Webber, as well as ex-Formula 1 pilots Emerson Fittipaldi, Jody Scheckter amongst many others.