Positioning of European open-wheel racing
July 1, 2009 8 Comments
From my previous post, I have had comments regarding GP3, which as Fletcher points out, has begun to test this week at Paul Ricard. This makes me think once again about the positioning of this series in the landscape of European open-wheel racing, and the real need for one more category.
The current plan is for GP3 to replace International Formula Master (IFM), and as I understand this is still the idea. The problem is that a 280 HP engine is smack in the middle of F3 territory, for the same price – and way underpowered compared to WSR which is slightly more expensive in today’s market.
The key issue is that F3 is able to compete with WSR because of its heritage and clear track record as a stepping stone for future racing stars. Never mind that its engine spits out only 210 HP, F3 is a classic and will remain active, most notably in its Euroseries format. The same cannot be said for GP3. The heritage is not there, the engines are upgrades from the Eurocup 2.0 powerplants and the overall concept is generally uninspiring to me. If I was a 18 year-old coming from Formula BMW with €600k in my pocket, I would go to the F3 Euroseries.
So, the question is… who will race in GP3? Will next year’s Jules Bianchi, Roberto Merhi and Valteri Bottas prefer GP3 just because it races with the F1 circus? Can GP3 pull out a €600k per year championship with less than 300 HP? More details are to be announced regarding the budget, so let’s give Bruno and his boys the benefit of the doubt and hope they try and position GP3 where it should be – at €300 to €400k levels.