Whilst I wholeheartedly agree that the FIA needed to address the ever confusing open wheel career path their latest efforts only seem to add to the dismay. Whilst I believe the potential is there I can’t help but think they’ve made a mistake in dissolving one of the most historic and loved disciplines of our sport. Judging by the comment sections on social media it looks like I’m not alone in my thoughts…

Accessibility

Naturally as a Motorsport fan I’ve always been massively into Formula 3. The small but blisteringly fast open wheelers with their unusual air intakes protruding out the side. My first ever race meeting was back in 1997, a wet British F3 race at Snetterton. I’ve always followed it since and have attended some form of F3 race every season for over 10 years now.

“F3 has always been about getting close to the stars of tomorrow.”

“The spacious modern F1 circuits hardly create the atmosphere and drama of circuits such as Pau, the Norisring or Brands Hatch.”

For me the biggest disappointment around the new F3 championship is accessibility. F3 has always been about getting close to the stars of tomorrow. This year I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to watch Mick Schumacher strap himself into his car before going on to win race 2 at Silverstone. (Left)

The previous year I met 2019 McLaren star Lando Norris, in 2012 I sat next to Carlos Sainz and Carlos Sainz Jr in a packed Brands Hatch restaurant during lunch. I’ve obtained so many autographs and spoken to so many stars, I’m going to miss this. I’ve been to 5 of the last 6 British Grand Prix’s and regrettably have barely seen a GP3 car in anger. Early morning and late afternoon sessions have meant that I’ve missed nearly all of the GP3 action. GP3 must be the largest motorsport series I don’t follow religiously, I’m sure the racing is great but I’m not interested.

The spacious modern F1 circuits hardly create the atmosphere and drama of circuits such as Pau, the Norisring or Brands Hatch. These smaller national circuits need strong series to get fans to the track and we seem to be consistently watering down these meetings. Let’s not forget the most thrilling race of the year, Macau.

Further Confusion?

The creation of a new regional Formula 3 category in 2018 has added more fuel to the fire as the FIA aim to plug the gap between traditional F4 and F3. I see this new layer essentially as Formula 3.5 or Formula 3B.

So far 3 chassis manufacturers have signed up and built regional F3 spec cars for various regional championships. The new Asian F3 and W Series championships use the Tatuus T-318 with its 1.8 Turbo Alfa Romeo power plant. F3 Americas uses a (Crawford) Ligier JSF3 2.0 Honda. Meanwhile Mygale have produced a car in anticipation for future demand, powered by an Oreca 1.8 Turbo.

Last of all is the British F3 Tatuus 2.0 Cosworth pushing out 230bhp, although this essentially is a F4 car ‘on steroids’ and doesn’t not fit the new regulations. This was created to distance the championship from the established British F4 BTCC support series.

Formula 4 as a platform has succeeded globally, large grids and 4 chassis manufacturers catering for respective national markets. Crawford (Ligier) in the USA, Dome in Japan and Mygale /Tatuus sharing the spoils across 4 continents. If the F3 regional series can take off in similar fashion and emulate the national series of previous years then we could be on to a winner.

Despite the naming confusion the new motorsport ladder works on paper and seems to provide a progressive increase in power and downforce. As shown in the table below:

Formula 4 Regional Formula 3 Formula 3 Formula 2
Chassis

Tatuus F4-T014
Mygale M14-F4
Dome F110
Crawford F4-16

Tatuus T-318
Mygale F3R
Ligier JSF3
Dallara F3/19? Dallara F2/18
Power 160 bhp 270bhp 380 bhp 620 bhp

Regional Formula 3 cars:

Conclusion

This is just the start of the journey, could we see proper regional series making a comeback? What will happen to series such as the Spanish Euro Formula and Japanese F3? Surely the logical path is to adopt the new regional F3 platform

The focus on chassis / engine competition in junior formulae has subsided in recent years with the growth of single make series. The aim being to keep costs down and allow the drivers talent to shine through. Despite this I would absolutely love to see regional / intercontinental races for each category of cars. An international F4/F3 trophy or masters race featuring mixed car grids.

There’s talks that the remains of F3 Europe are to be resurrected in support of the DTM. If this goes ahead (which I hope it does) then surely the only gain has been a name change for GP3?