Formula Vee is a popular junior single-seater open wheel series. It exists in multiple countries around the world with varying specs and regulations. It's a cost-effective alternative for other junior series.
The Vee is based on original VW Beetle key parts and is therefore relatively easy and inexpensive to maintain. Parts may be stock or upgraded depending on the series. But for the most part the end result is a very simple low tech solution that emphasises car control.
Modern Brazilian Vee
Vee made a comeback in Brazil in 2011 after a 30-year hiatus. Engineer Roberto Zullino launched a new car for the new era of Vee in Brazil.
This car uses a standard water-cooled VW EA111 1.6L engine from a VW Fox. It's combined with a 4-speed manual gearbox. The car is built on a tubular chassis and original Beetle front suspension. Radial Pirelli P1 road car tyres are used so grip is progressive and allows the car to move around a lot.
"Unsafe at any speed"
Like the Beetle (or Fusca as it's known in Brazil), Brazilian Vees have a swing-axle suspension in the rear. This has a profound effect on handling for two reasons:
- Big amount of camber change on each side independently as rear suspension loads and unloads.
- Rear suspension unloading causes positive camber on both sides leading to oversteer.
In practice this means that Vees are very unstable off throttle, under braking, and when driving over crests and bumps. Throttle control is a key part of driving a Vee. If you can sense heavy oversteer coming early, you can mitigate or stop it altogether by applying some throttle. This will effectively stabilise the rear.
Fortunately you can learn to use rear instability to your advantage and this is what makes it especially fun to drive. Brazilian Vees have forgiving tyre slip angles which means that they slide a lot and don't regrip suddenly. If you have trouble turning into a particular corner, you can lift and steer carefully to make the car turn in more aggressively. But you need to get back on the throttle gently before oversteer turns into a massive slide or complete lose of control. With practice you can find the perfect balance between agile cornering and speed lost from sliding.
Also, because power output is limited, the Vee is not that easy to spin from too much throttle. It can be done and there is certainly a healthy amount of throttle oversteer in many situations, but for the most part you can trust throttle to stabilise rather than spin the car.