Posted by Matthew Mac Partlin on Sunday, December 15, 2013 

Formula 4 has been confirmed as the new stepping stone in progression in open-wheel race car competition in Australia. So here is a summary of the key items of this new formula, with a focus on the elements that impact on medical and rescue provision.

The aim is to keep cost to a minimum, to encourage young talent to progress through the ranks to Formula 3 and on to Formula 1. That doesn't mean it will be particularly cheap. The price of the engine alone is intended to be about EU9,500 and is intended to last at least 10,000kms. A race-ready car should cost about EU30,000 plus shipping, taxes and a 5 – 10% margin. Optional extras include paddle shifters and data feedback.

The engine will put out 140 – 160 horse power and will drive a carbon-fibre monocoque. All elements are FIA homologated.

For more technical and sporting features, read the December issue of CAMS Speed Read.

So what are the bits that affect medical and rescue teams? You can get the full regulations on the FIA site here:

Here's a bullet point summary of the main features:
  • The car shape is similar to a Formula 1 car, though a little more compact.
  • The safety cell contains both the cockpit and the fuel tank.
  • A deformable impact absorbing structure is placed in front, behind and to each side of the survival cell. The crash structure design is such that the peak deceleration is to be no more than 60G for no longer than 3mSec cumulative.
  • The driver's position within the cockpit is such that his/her feet rest behind the axis of the front wheels.
  • The driver is restrained by a 5-point harness.
  • The steering wheel is quick release with a similar flange as Formula 1 cars. The steering column is collapsible but the wheel release flange should still work despite steering column deformity.
  • There is a cockpit surround that limits the driver's head movement in a crash and is meant to prevent the driver's helmet impacting with more solid elements of the vehicle. The surround is kept in place with 2 quick-release pins behind the driver's head and 2 more quick-release pins at the front, similar to the F1 cockpit surround. The surround should just pull out.
  • The FIA regulations require that a driver can exit the car within 5 seconds and reposition the steering wheel within a further 5 seconds.
  • The driver can be extricated while still strapped in to the seat, similar to an F1 car. There are  2 bolts behind the driver's head, which are unscrewed by a single tool common to all vehicles and given to the rescue/extrication teams before each event.
  • There is a plumbed in fire suppression system that can be activated by a button in the cockpit within the driver's reach, or by a clearly marked button outside the cockpit (the usual red E inside a red and white circle). The fire suppression substance may vary between cars but is intended to discharge for between 10 and 30 seconds.
  • There are also two circuit breaker switches that cut off the electrical supply to the ignition, fuel pumps and rear light. The first switch is on the dashboard and clearly marked with the usual red spark inside the blue and white triangle. The second is located on the vehicle's right just below the primary rollcage hoop behind the driver's head. It is designed as a horizontal handle which can be pulled by a hook, if necessary.

For images of the Formula 4 car, including the cockpit and external circuit breaker switch, go to this site:

So, now you know.