With Just over a month to go until pre-season testing in Bahrain, Van Amersfoort Racing’s Zeewolde-based factory in the Netherlands will be a hub of activity, and Owner Fritz Van Amersfoort says the team have a “clear idea” of the direction they want to go in.
In both Formula 2 and Formula 3, the Dutch team will replace HWA RACELAB from 2022. Unlike in F3, when they first got their hands on the car in October, following the conclusion of the 2021 campaign, Van Amersfoort had to wait until December to start work on F2.
And it’s given the team a tight schedule, with just over three months separating the post-season test with the start of the new season in March.
“We sent two of our guys to Jeddah where they started learning, but we first got our hands on the cars in Abu Dhabi,” said Van Amersfoort. “First of all, we were just trying to understand the cars, and maybe more importantly, how an F2 team works.
“We haven't finished that study, but I think we have quite a clear idea of the direction we want to go in, so now we have to make it work. The testing days are worth a lot. The cars are complex, and you need guys with experience to run the cars.
“We have pit stops, strategies and a lot of other new things we have to face and learn, and we also have a lot to do in the field of transportation, amongst everything else. Believe me, there is a lot to do, but we will be rolling our sleeves up and going to work.”
Van Amersfoort – who were set up in 1975 - currently run teams in Euroformula Open, Formula Regional European by Alpine, Italian F4 and ADAC F4. They’ve also raced in Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European, ADAC Formel Masters and European F3 in the past, but they have never competed as high up the ladder as F2.
For their first F2 outing at the tests in Sakhir, they recruited the experience of Jake Hughes, who took HWA RACELAB’s best F2 result, finishing fourth in Sprint Race 1 at Sochi last season.
The Briton has since joined permanently, along with rookie Amaury Cordeel, and will be tasked with helping the team find their feet at this level.
“I have seen race cars for the last 40 years, so it wasn't a shock to see an F2 car,” continued Van Amersfoort. “But it is more complex than what we have done up until now. Jake was extremely helpful because you need the guidance of a guy with experience.
“We’re not dreaming, and we’re not underestimating the other teams. We know that it is going to be a huge challenge. We’re not stupid and I think that at the F3 post-season test in Valencia, we showed that we understand race cars and I think we’ll show that in F2 as well.
“F2 is only a little bit outside of F1, so I think that says everything about how complex it is – It’s different to F4, I can tell you that.”
VAR’s staff retained an HWA feel to it at the tests, with the Dutch team opting to keep on members of the German team’s race crew to study and utilize their F2 experience. Van Amersfoort hopes to use that crossover to learn what HWA did well in F2 and to avoid making any of the same mistakes.
“We are studying the way that you should run the cars and part of that is studying the people who have run them,” said Van Amersfoort. “We will make some changes, that is quite obvious, but we have quite a good idea of who we want in the team.
“When Bahrain comes, we will have a different team to the one that we had in Abu Dhabi and the cars will look different as well. This was always going to be a hybrid test, a combination of VAR and HWA, and it was extremely important to be there.
“HWA are a huge company with huge resources, and I rate them highly, don't get me wrong, but I have one huge target and that is to be a lot better than they were. That is not me looking down at them, I would and will never do that, but it is obvious that we want to be the best that we can and raise the level as much as we can.”