I feel I should have my say regarding Formula Renaults, as I own one that I am yet to race.
It's always tricky homologating two different cars in one class. As the Monoposto organisers have made very clear, if there were enough later carbon tubbed Tatuus Formula Renaults (hereafter I'll just say "FR") entered into Mono, they'd give them their own class, which I'm sure we all agree is the ideal situation. However, without enough cars for a dedicated class, bringing FRs into the F3 class under pre-existing BARC regs seems very sensible and I've always supported that decision.
Regarding performance comparisons, firstly I'll mention the problems with looking at on paper specs: firstly, horsepower figures are tricky to compare, because the FR engine has variable valve timing and the standard 2.0 litre Mono engine doesn't (although in this case there's probably too big a difference in bhp and torque for VVT to even the gap). Secondly, an F3 chassis will probably be quicker in theory, but as far as I understand it from a friend who's raced both, F3 cars use underbody aero more than FR, so will be disadvantaged at Mono ride height more. My point is that comparing specs all gets quite complicated and involves lots of unknowns, so lap times
are by far the best and easiest way of looking at things. I've just trawled the web looking at BARC FR and Mono F3 lap times, and it seems that the best BARC FR times are around 2 seconds slower than the best Mono F3 times. I'm happy for someone with more time than me to adjust or correct that figure. Now, as far as I know, BARC FR ran a free ride height, so raising the ride height to 40mm is only going to make the BARC cars slower, widening that gap further.
As an FR owner, I'd be quite happy to run in a car that's 2-3 seconds slower a lap initially and then at a later date either look at making the Mono FRs faster, or if there are enough cars, creating a dedicated class; time is needed there I feel. I bought my car in full knowledge of the Monoposto regulations and I'm happy with things as they are. However, this is just my take on things and we need to be careful not to put people off - I know of one person keen to enter an FR but put off by the lack of competitiveness in class.
We must remember that BARC FR only officially stopped at the beginning of 2015 and many teams hung on to their cars throughout 2015 and may even still have them now. The car I bought wasn't even advertised when I bought it in August 2015 - I heard through a friend that the team just had two FRs sat in their workshop, presumably in case BARC FR started up again. In time, these cars are going to start getting into amateur hands like mine, but I think it's too knee-jerk to just assume that process has finished by mid 2016. There are a huge number of FRs around.
Note that Mono may need to look at closing the gap to the F3 cars to encourage FRs to come into the championship so they can get their own class... I'm happy to enter as things are, because I simply enjoy driving the car, but not everyone shares that view.
FRs in General
I'd like to say a few words in support of the Formula Renault as a car. The big attraction to me is the roomier cockpit compared to older space frame cars. One of the reasons I stopped racing in 2009 was that I never really fitted in those older cars (I raced a 1995 FR and two late 90s Formula Ford based cars in 750MC F4), which gave fairly significant safety issues, such as my head being far too high in some cars and my feet getting jammed in the pedals in others. My 2008 FR isn't exactly huge, but I fit with my head at a safe height and my feet and hands are free to control the car safely. Secondly, FRs are quite simple cars that are easy to maintain at home. Thirdly, FRs are one of the most common cars around, so parts are relatively easy to get hold of, either secondhand or via the UK Renaultsport agent. Lastly, there's the cost - you can be on the grid in an FR for about £20k including buying the car, paying someone else to rebuild it (as I've done) and buying your first set of tyres. In summary, FRs combine a modern larger carbon-tubbed car with more affordable running costs. People aren't getting any shorter and there will always be people out there like me with a Caterham/Elise type budget who want to race a single seater.
Monoposto need a vision looking forward 5-10 years, and running expensive Dallaras at one end and older spaceframe cars at the other seems to me rather limited - bringing in FRs in the middle seems very sensible to me. Naturally we also need to look at the newer FF cars, BRDC F4 / F3 etc so we don't arrive at this situation again in the future without a clear plan as to the evolution of the class structure. On this point, we shouldn't ban variable valve timing, because obviously most modern engines have it now, so we have to bring it in at some point, although perhaps not as a standard Mono engine just yet.
This to me seems like a very odd decision and I'm not sure I've heard of a club banning a car before under these circumstances. Banning or changing allowed modifications
is normal in club racing, but banning an entire car seems strange, particularly when they're at a performance disadvantage in their class and the FR is such a well suited car to amateur club racing (see above). I was particularly miffed seeing as I'd contacted the club about buying an FR a week before the announcement was made regarding banning them, by which time I'd already bought a car. I did the deal on Aug 3rd and the announcement was made on this forum on Aug 8th.
I can see no reason why FRs shouldn't continue in the Mono F3 class, provided they are not allowed to exceed the performance of the Dallara F3 cars. The ideal situation would be to have FRs nipping at the heels of the F3s on the tighter circuits, or obviously in their own class in time when grid sizes are sufficiently large.
Right, I've got a garage to work on so I can get my car out of storage and prep it!