A SERIES WITH TRADITION
Formula 3 is considered as one of the most important junior categories in international single-seater racing. For more than five decades it has been the ideal training ground for the future stars of the sport
In the years after World War II, first efforts were made to establish motor racing with small single-seaters, often powered by motorbike engines. The goal: to create the possibility to enter motor racing at low costs. But only in 1957, Italian racing driver and journalist Giovanni Lurani succeeded in establishing a generally accepted category: the ‘Formula Junior’ which is regarded as the beginning of Formula 3 today. In 1964, Formula Junior was replaced by a new 1.000cc singleseater category that was named Formula 3 by the World Automobile Association, FIA.
Before long, this category proved to be successful all over Europe, with renowned racing car constructors such as Lotus, Brabham and Cooper providing cars. In many countries, national championships were launched. In 1975, the FIA for the first time established an official Formula 3 European Championship – that should exist up to and including 1984.
THE EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS
|1975||Larry Perkins (AUS)||Ralt RT1-Ford|
|1976||Riccardo Patrese (ITA)||Chevron B34-Toyota|
|1977||Piercarlo Ghinzani (ITA)||March 773-Toyota|
|1978||Jan Lammers (NLD)||Ralt RT1-Toyota|
|1979||Alain Prost (FRA)||Martini MK27-Renault|
|1980||Michele Alboreto (ITA)||March 803/803B-Alfa Romeo|
|1981||Mauro Baldi (ITA)||March 813-Alfa Romeo|
|1982||Oscar Larrauri (ARG)||Euroracing 101-Alfa Romeo|
|1983||Pierluigi Martini (ITA)||Ralt RT3-Alfa Romeo|
|1984||Ivan Capelli (ITA)||Martini MK42-Alfa Romeo|
|2012||Daniel Juncadella (ESP)||Dallara F312-Mercedes|
|2013||Raffaele Marciello (ITA)||Dallara F312-Mercedes|
|2014||Esteban Ocon (FRA)||Dallara F312-Mercedes|
|2015||Felix Rosenqvist (SWE)||Dallara F312-Mercedes|
Four-time F1 World Champion Alain Prost who won the 1979 F3 European Championship was the arguably most famous driver who learned his trade in this series before advancing to F1. Riccardo Patrese (1976) and Michele Alboreto (1980) also made it to the pinnacle of motor racing after having won the European championship. In addition, there were numerous national F3 championships that prospered for many years, with the British championship in particular proving to be an excellent talent pool. Here, the likes of the future Formula 1 World Champions Jackie Stewart, Emerson Fittipaldi, Ayrton Senna, Mika Häkkinen and Jenson Button learned their trade for the tasks to come. While the most renowned German F3 Champion most definitely was future F1 record champion Michael Schumacher who won the German F3 title in 1990. In 2003, the merger of the German and French championships resulted in the creation of the Formula 3 Euro Series that was held as a partner series of the DTM. The most famous young talents that advanced from here to Formula 1 were later World Champions Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel as well as F1 vice champion Nico Rosberg. In 2011, the World Automobile Association created the ‘FIA Formula 3 International Trophy‘ and in the following year, this series was replaced by the ‘FIA European Formula 3 Championship‘. Its race calendar comprised Formula 3 Euro Series and British Formula 3 Championship rounds.
Since 2013, the ‘FIA Formula 3 European Championship’ has been – initiated by the FIA – a self-contained series that replaced the Formula 3 Euro Series. The FIA Formula 3 European Championship enters its fourth season in 2016 and has already established itself as the most significant Formula 3 series worldwide.
In 1946 Charles and John Cooper developed the first F3 cars for an entry-level formula in Bristol (Great Britain). They had 500 cc bike engines with around 45 hp and a top speed of 160 to 180 km/h. In Germany a similar entry-level formula with 750 cc engines (Zündapp, BMW) and uncountable self-designed cars was established. Originally those cars were called “Minimal Race Cars”. They were used to stage a championship from 1948 till 1951.
The first German F3 championship took place in 1950, but the series had to be ceased in 1954 because of a lack of events.
In 1957, race driver and journalist Count Giovanni Lurani initiated “Formula Junior” in Italy, with up to 100 hp strong 1100 cc engines. The German Formula Junior Championship was held from 1960 till 1963 and was dominated by Gerhard Mitter and Kurt Ahrens Jr. This championship also included hill climbing.
In 1964 Formula Junior was taken over by a new 1000 cc single-seater class, called “Formula 3” by the FIA. It spread in whole Europe. The most successful brands were Lotus, Brabham and Cooper.
With the “Polifac Trophy” a national F3 race series was reanimated in Germany in 1974.
In 1975, the FIA initiated the European Formula 3 Championship for the first time. This series lasted until 1984. Afterwards the European Formula 3 Cup was declared the successor of that championship and was carried out as an annual single event until 2004 except for a nine-year break from 1991 to 1998.
The “German Race Car Championship” was organised as a national Formula 3 Championship in Germany for the first time in 1975. It built up an international reputation in junior motorsports till 2002.
From 1985 the championship was open to international drivers as well. Since 2003 the German championship is called “Formula 3 Cup”.
A higher-ranking series was founded in 2003: the Formula 3 Euro Series. On one hand it continues the idea of an European Formula 3 championship, and on the other hand because of the merger of the French and German national F3 championships it became the successor of these two race series. Besides the Euro Series and the German Formula 3 Cup there are further national series in other countries worldwide, e.g. Spanish, Italian and British Formula 3. Japanese Formula 3 is considered the strongest Formula 3 series outside of Europe.
In 2011 the FIA organised the FIA Formula 3 International Trophy with races all over the world. The trophy has been replaced by the FIA European Formula 3 Championship in 2012. In addition to these championships further F3 events took place. The prestigious races in Zandvoort and Macau are two of them.
FIA created a championship governed by a new set of sporting regulations. The FIA Formula 3 European Championship consists of ten events on both F1 circuits and others closely linked to the history of F3.