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Old 5 Aug 2011, 17:03 (Ref:2936187)   #1
strider
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The Future of F3

This is something that deserves its own thread, because there will be a lot of changes in the next couple of years.

The F3ES is at the Nurburgring this weekend and there were just 12 cars for qualifying. Compare that with last weekend at Spa, when 75% of their best drivers joined the British F3 field for the FIA International Trophy meeting and there were 28 cars on the grid, which looked great.

Normally in F3 new chassis come out every three years. The present ones were first built in 2008, so already the period has been stretched by a year in an effort to limit costs, but the new car is definitely coming next year.

There has been talk that the F3ES will not adopt it, in which case it will cease to be a pukka FIA series, leaving just BF3 and Japan on their own. That would mean the end of Zandvoort and Macau. There was a lot of lobbying going on at Spa and no final decision has been taken, but that was certainly the direction in which the wind was blowing.

It has also been said that for cost reasons some of the British teams may keep the cars they have and run them in the National Class. I refuse to call it the Rookie Class, because that word simply degrades the class at a time when it needs to be built up.

There are also rumours circulating about what might happen to British F3 itself. At the moment rumours are all they are, so I'm saying nothing more except that it would be a tragedy if British F3 were to fall apart at the moment when it has the most to gain.

Then in 2013 a new engine is coming along. There has been no official announcement from the FIA about what form it will take, but the trend is to have a common basic engine format which, with variations, can be used in single-seaters, saloons and rally cars. Again rumour has it that Volkswagen and Mercedes are not keen on this idea, but fortunately there are other engine manufacturers ready to step into the breach.

As I said, there is going to be a lot to talk about.
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Old 6 Aug 2011, 17:50 (Ref:2936500)   #2
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F3 shouldn't only prepare drivers for FR3.5 / GP3 / GP2, but to develop future national and international touring car and sports car drivers. Italian F3 does that, for example.
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Old 7 Aug 2011, 01:47 (Ref:2936775)   #3
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Agreed. If you look at any major (or lesser) championship or series in the world you will find drivers who learnt their trade in F3.
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Old 7 Aug 2011, 19:42 (Ref:2936943)   #4
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F3 shouldn't only prepare drivers for FR3.5 / GP3 / GP2, but to develop future national and international touring car and sports car drivers. Italian F3 does that, for example.
Every professional-level F3 series does that surely. Even the likes of German F3 which manages to combine a high-level at the front of the grid with a club-racing level at the back.

In my experience, top-level sportscar teams expect F3 pedigree on any driver's CV they are considering.
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Old 7 Aug 2011, 19:52 (Ref:2936948)   #5
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In my experience, top-level sportscar teams expect F3 pedigree on any driver's CV they are considering.
john, do you think this'll be the case in 5 years time? and why do they expect that, is it that there's a certain level of competition they'll have faced as well as a specific type of setup and engineering skill they'd have needed to swim rather than sink? has the level of competition in some series dwindled to a level where it'll lose part of that respect?
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Old 7 Aug 2011, 20:01 (Ref:2936952)   #6
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Bella I think so, yes, and hope so too. Although there are now variations on the F3 theme out there (like the European Open we compete in with the latest car to a fairly set spec, Italian F3 with open chassis but spec engine, and German F3 with older cars but supposedly going with spec-engine and some sort of push-to-pass) IT IS all F3.

Different series are strong at different times. Somebody said something about the European Open being weaker on another thread. It's not fair to comment on the current year, but that certainly wasn't the case in recent years. All the proper series have good quality at the front. just that perhaps it is more spread lower down the grid in some more than others.

F3 remains a very important formula, where the driver can learn about proper driving techniques and engineering feedback skills. It is also the only formula in Europe with proper downforce before F1, save FR3.5 and GP3/2 of course. All part of the reason higher teams continue to look to F3 experience where they can I find.

As well as the above, you have to look at the mileage a driver gets in F3 which can easily be worth three or even four years seat-time as offered in some formula.
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Old 8 Aug 2011, 09:47 (Ref:2937095)   #7
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As far as I can see for an F1 aspirant GP3 is now the only game in town as a step up from the national Formulae. The depth of talent this year is extraordinary.

To that end I can see that a preparatory year in F3 European Open or similar would produce similar track time and experience but at a far lower cost than BF3 which just seems to be getting more and more expensive. F3 Euro just looks pointless now.
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Old 8 Aug 2011, 10:48 (Ref:2937120)   #8
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F3 generally offers much more track time than the likes of GP3, hence so many GP3 drivers combine with F3, be it racing or behind-the-scenes testing.
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Old 8 Aug 2011, 10:49 (Ref:2937121)   #9
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Bella I think so, yes, and hope so too. Although there are now variations on the F3 theme out there (like the European Open we compete in with the latest car to a fairly set spec, Italian F3 with open chassis but spec engine, and German F3 with older cars but supposedly going with spec-engine and some sort of push-to-pass) IT IS all F3.

F3 remains a very important formula, where the driver can learn about proper driving techniques and engineering feedback skills.
thanks for the reply john.

i think the variation in options you mention is why f3 will survive. i think it's daft for most drivers to want to hop to gp3 as quickly as some of them do anyway, especially considering the fact that many of them aren't short of a bob or two. single seater racing isn't just about getting to the top as quickly as possible, each formula will teach you different stuff. i mean, i can't believe a driver would want to be learning to left foot brake in f3 for example, or still be struggling with his basic engineering english in gp3.

i think f3 still has a lot of excellent quality engineering *staff* as well, which is more than can be said for quite a few teams elsewhere. i find it difficult to believe that drivers can end up in gp3 with graduate engineers who still believe that if the spreadsheet says it's true then it must be, for example. what happened to the old school? how are you supposed to learn from someone who doesn't understand a car any more than you as a driver do?

i think cost-wise f3 needs to be between fr2.0 (probably eurocup plus national series budget), and fr3.5. cost management needs to be done from the chassis manufacturer level downwards - to recoup r&d costs for a new chassis it needs to have a 4-5 year life, and bodywork updates should only be at the most once every 2 years. i personally believe that engine maps and engines should be available to all teams and approved before the start of the season with no amendments beyond a set of options suited to certain types of circuit. there should be a set number of mechanics and engineers per car, with a limit on consultants as well. no subcontracting out engineering development either to dodge the staffing limits. pitstops and long races are nonsense, bin those off.

those rules should be universal across all "brands" of f3 as a minimum. i think the high cost ones are ruining the image of the whole series, far more so than any technical shenanigans. the fact drivers (and managers!) think it's ok to miss it out entirely is just a crime.
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Old 9 Aug 2011, 06:16 (Ref:2937515)   #10
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Maybe a spec safety cell approach could work in F3? If done smarter than in IndyCars, aka nosecone and wing attachment separate from front attenuator, making the suspension connect points separate from the tub, and having a non stressed or semi-stressed rear?
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Old 9 Aug 2011, 07:58 (Ref:2937545)   #11
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F3 remains a very important formula, where the driver can learn about proper driving techniques and engineering feedback skills. It is also the only formula in Europe with proper downforce before F1, save FR3.5 and GP3/2 of course.
I think the point about down force is well made. I spoke to one F3 engineer last year who reckoned his driver was struggling big time with the down force in F3 despite having done F2 the year before. The same driver went back to F2 and is a front runner.

I just wish that the economics of F3 allowed different chassis manufacturers to compete against each other again. I miss March Vs Chevron Vs Ralt etc or Reynard Vs Ralt but I guess that dates me.

Perhaps one way of reducing costs is to share engines with another formula. So, F3 could use the same NGTC engines as BTCC or the 1.6 Turbo engines at WTCC. At least the manufactureres would be developing engines for several applications. Yes, I know that's supposed to be what's happening but there already seems to be some divergence from this.

I'm also not convinced that going down the winglet & bespoke aero development route is a good thing for the racing or the budget.
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Old 9 Aug 2011, 19:09 (Ref:2937746)   #12
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It's not too difficult to identify that driver. In a memorable quote given at the very first F3 meeting last year his Dad said he had learnt more in the 7 or 8 days of pre-season testing than in his whole career to date which, as you say, included a year in FPA and another in F2. It is a big step for drivers to realize that if they force themselves to take a fast corner faster than their gut instinct tells them is safe the downforce will actually help them get around it safely. You need somewhere like Paul Ricard with lots of safe run-off, although Copse is pretty good now.

Engines are the most expensive item in an F3 budget, so this really does need to be addressed. Chassis are not so bad and the updates are not excessively expensive.

I think you'll find that most drivers now see Renault 3.5 as the next step and they know that F1 teams will take drivers from that, so GP2 is becoming too expensive an option.

I agree about different chassis manufacturers. It was a shame that Lola and Mygale dropped by the wayside. They were both good enough to win races in BF3.

I can't say too much about the engine situation, but I do believe that some sort of common basic engine will come into force. The fact that the FIA is pushing F3 will ensure that. There was an idea a few years that I liked and that was that some reputable engine builder should put together an engine which could then be passed on to manufacturers, who could play around with it within reason and badge it as their own.

Last edited by strider; 9 Aug 2011 at 19:25.
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Old 9 Aug 2011, 21:04 (Ref:2937802)   #13
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This is the startlist of the Masters of F3 ... 5 teams ... that's ... sad

Marco Wittmann (Dallara-Volkswagen) - Signature
Laurens Vanthoor (Dallara-Volkswagen) - Signature
Daniel Abt (Dallara-Volkswagen) - Signature
Carlos Munoz (Dallara-Volkswagen) - Signature
Carlos Huertas (Dallara-Volkswagen) - Carlin
Jazeman Jaafar (Dallara-Volkswagen) - Carlin
Kevin Magnussen (Dallara-Volkswagen) - Carlin
Rupert Svendsen-Cook (Dallara-Volkswagen) - Carlin
Roberto Merhi (Dallara-Mercedes) - Prema.
Daniel Juncadella (Dallara-Mercedes) - Prema
Pipo Derani (Dallara-Mercedes) - Prema
Nigel Melker (Dallara-Mercedes) - Mucke
Felix Rosenqvist (Dallara-Mercedes) - Mucke
Lucas Foresti (Dallara-Mercedes) - Mucke
Jimmy Eriksson (Dallara-Volkswagen) - Motopark
Kimiya Sato (Dallara-Volkswagen) - Motopark

I have no idea where F3 is heading, but this can't be good.
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Old 13 Aug 2011, 14:04 (Ref:2939234)   #14
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Does the "Masters" score for FIA World Trophy? or is F3 having a psychotic break?
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Old 13 Aug 2011, 14:12 (Ref:2939237)   #15
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Marcel ten Caat should be qualifying in the top 10 on the gridMarcel ten Caat should be qualifying in the top 10 on the grid
The RTL GP Masters of Formula 3 is round 4 (race 6) of the FIA Formula 3 International Trophy.
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