By and large, I think the vast majority of lower Formula series are boring and relatively useless. And most especially one-make spec-series.
The most prominent of these is GP2 and GP3. But GP3 is hardly that fast and the only things of any significance to come out of it at the moment are Valtteri Bottas and Daniil Kvyat. So GP2 must be a right ball, surely? Not even close. The differences between it and F1 fail to spice it up at all, and most of the drivers that have been it aren’t really relevant. In fact, the only time GP2 was ever worth watching was 2006, when Lewis Hamilton was in it, and won it. Because you sort of knew looking at him that year in races like Turkey that he was just going to walk into McLaren the next year and kick arse. Which he promptly did so the year after. If literally anything that season had gone a little better for him he would’ve been a rookie champion. Just as well he did win the next year, in what was an infinitely more competitive year.
There are other examples around. I actually went to the first ever A1GP race at Brands Hatch, the first car race I ever went to. It was great whilst my young self was there, but the series has long since died. Auto GP is more of a joke than an actual class of formula these days. Formula Renault has brought through a few gems but its main series is not a Renault thing any more. And I don’t know what Superleague Formula was at all. Certainly not anything to do with football as its teams would appear to suggest.
Things are only a little better when you get to Formulas with more than one make. Formula 3 will always be important, but it’s only just gotten itself back together again. The cars look great, mostly because they look like they have rocket boosters on the side. But then you hear about races being cancelled because its drivers are that shit, and that the rocket booster is actually an airbox, and it’s not brilliant at all. If some drivers are terrible, let those weaklings go to the wall. I don’t care as long as the cars really do have rocket boosters on the back. That would put F3 back on the map.
Lastly, the highest up the food chain aren’t perfect either. IndyCar has its moments but it has more internal problems than a chain-smoking alcoholic. And whilst Super Formula was nearly as fast as F1 recently (and how hilarious would that be if it were ever displaced), no one is watching it outside of Japan and, besides which, it isn’t even the best series in its own country. Only Formula E provides any great respite, and that was a spec series last year. It was the exception rather than the norm, though. Luckily even as the teams are allowed to change up the cars it is still staying very much competitive, so it’ll be round for the long run, make no mistake.
But the fact is, if you want anything outside the undisputed top motorsport in the world – which hopefully will still be F1 by the end of the year – you don’t want to look around any other formula (except Formula E). And even there you’ll struggle too…
That said, Formula Mazda has always caught my attention. It hasn’t ever been relevant to me because it isn’t a thing outside of America, but over there it is big business. There are a very healthy number of entrants for each race and the racing is apparently genuinely competitive.
In Forza 6 is a variant of the original Formula Mazda. Whilst it has been updated since, the original is still legal in the USA for racing and so that’s what we’ve got.
Instantly, you can tell this is by Mazda. Because it’s powered by that iconic element of Mazda, a rotary engine. It is dead weight in road cars at the moment (though it is planned to be revived) but in racing it lives on in this Formula race car.
It has a relatively miniscule 180bhp (the modern Formula Mazda has 250hp among many other improvements), but it weighs all of about 570kg. About what any single-seater open-wheel Formula should do. And sure enough, it behaves exactly as you’d expect one too.
It corners without any disturbance. It remains straight and true through every corner, and never throws you around. That buzzy rotor in the back just gives it all the power it needs for a drive that’s absolutely right.
It should also be noted that, particularly compared to a number of Formula cars these days, it looks terrific. Though I would like a good livery to match it too. If you find one, let me know.
But as for the Formula Mazda itself it can be quite simply said that it does exactly what you’d expect it to. Get round tracks at superb speed with its great cornering and magnificent handling. Now I’d like to see them throw it in against some other Formula cars, and show them what a modern day Formula really ought to be.