Christodoulou hails new car progress as speeds approach F3 level

Having driven the new Tatuus-Cosworth shortly after its launch in May 2015 and more recently with Hillspeed in testing, Riki Christodoulou is well placed to offer an opinion on the progress that has been made with the car. The 27-year-old believes that the 230-bhp spec machine has made “a very positive step forward” and that “the difference in lap time to an F3 car really isn’t that much” now, as all teams ramp up their preparations ahead of the 2016 season.

“It has definitely progressed, as you would expect,” Christodoulou states. “The overall feel is that it is a lot calmer. The base set-ups we had when we first tested the car were good but now the lap times have dropped a considerable amount so you can see straight away the development that has been done,” he continues.

Christodoulou, who has raced in a vast array of motorsport categories and competed in British Formula 3 in 2009 and 2011, believes that the work the teams have done since receiving their cars has moved the pace forward. “I couldn’t pinpoint a specific change that has made a massive difference but all the changes combined, including springs, ride height etc, together have made it feel much nicer, not that it wasn’t nice before of course! It feels so much calmer though and that means you can drive it so much quicker,” Christodoulou says.

The improvements that have been made with the car have also been reflected in lap times, with Christodoulou citing an example with BMW factory driver Alexander Sims, who drove the Tatuus-Cosworth for an Autosport article. He states: “I was at Snetterton with Simsy and he had done a lap time previously which I was aiming to beat. On older tyres, I managed to go three or four tenths quicker compared to his new tyre run. That shows the development of the car!” Christodoulou continues to enthuse: “Overall I just love it, from the first time I drove it to now; it’s just great!”

The new car is aimed at helping drivers make the transition from FIA F4 series to Formula 3 and GP3, and Christodoulou firmly believes that the championship is now perfectly placed to do so. “It definitely is the stepping stone to F3. It gives you the power on the straights that is very close to F3 standards so the only real difference is the braking power,” he states. It has a number of differences though, which will help drivers adjust before making the step up to F3 or GP3: “The steering is lighter in the Tatuus-Cosworth which will give drivers the benefit of experiencing aerodynamics, certain techniques and the only difference then going to F3 is that you just have to be a little bit stronger.”

A number of drivers who competed in MSA Formula last year, including Matheus Leist, Colton Herta and Champion Lando Norris, have committed to BRDC F4 in 2016 and Christodoulou believes they will benefit hugely from making the move. “Making the jump from BRDC F4 to F3, you can get your head around in barely one session. If you go from MSA Formula to F3, I feel that you won’t be able to take that much from it because you are going to have to learn everything from scratch, just because it is so different,“ he explains. The Sutton Coldfield native continues: “For drivers hopping into an F3 car from MSA Formula, they are just going to be blown away by how much later they have to break, how much heavier the steering is and how much entry speed they have to carry.”

Despite the improvements in pace that have been made, Christodoulou thinks teams and drivers will find yet more speed. “I think people will still find gains. Everything changes with the conditions and temperatures but I feel that with all the teams running their own testing programmes, it will push everyone to develop further as they have to in order to stay at the front. There is always more to find and because the car is still relatively new, I know the teams will, and currently are, finding more time,” he says.