GP2 organisers have announced the creation of a new GP3 series due to become a support race and stepping stone to the existing formula.
But things are not quite as expected. Smart money had previously been on the existing Formula Master championship, currently a support series for the WTCC, rebranded as a F1 support race.
It now appears that the new series will be set up from scratch while Formula Master goes on to act as an F1 support series in its own right, starting with appearances at two grands prix in 2009.
Confused? Yes, us too. This may be further evidence of F-prefixed series lining up in opposition to GP-prefixed ones. Or of failure to reach an agreement. Or an example of the two meshing together neatly.
So, what’s going on? On October 1 Formula Master made the following announcement: “Following another superb season of racing, Formula Master is set to grow for 2009 with a significant addition to its calendar.
“The series will partner two Formula 1 events, Spa and Istanbul, whilst remaining with the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) for the remaining six race meetings. The series is now the only single-seater racing avenue partnering two FIA World Championships.”
Series organiser Mauro Sipsz said that the Formula Master strategy had always been to position Formula Master as a “key feeder” for Formula One.
He went on: “With the inclusion of the Belgium Grand Prix, based at a respected track regarded as a true drivers’ circuit, and the Turkish GP, we are achieving our objectives.
“The Honda Racing Formula 1 team’s continued support with confirmation of a test for the 2009 winner cements the F1 association even further.
“We have worked hard to ensure that the stars of tomorrow race with state-of-the-art technology and a strong promotional platform on Europe’s most prestigious circuits.”
So, what about GP3? A news release on the GP2 website dated October 3 says: “We are pleased to announce that a new GP3 Series will be launched in 2010. This series will be a stepping-stone into GP2 series, and will take place within the GP2 race weekends.”
Details at this point are vague and rather generic. Apparently “the chassis will incorporate the latest single seater design features”, which is reassuring to hear.
A two-litre engine offering 250hp is on the cards, while the chassis, engine and tyre suppliers will be decided “after a consultation with the manufacturers who have shown interest in supporting GP3”.
Also, Bernie Ecclestone has spoken, although not particularly informatively. He said: “After the tremendous success of the GP2 Series, I believe this GP3 Series will be an opportunity for drivers, engineers and mechanics who are making their way to Formula One. I wish good luck to this series.”
We bet he does, given that this is potentially one little building block in such a massive extension to the Ecclestone empire.
Series organiser Bruno Michel adds, slightly more informatively: “The philosophy behind GP3 Series will be very similar to what we did in GP2 regarding the performance of the car, the control of the costs, the show, the safety and the training to access to the following category, but adjusted to the level of this new series.
“We will make sure that this series will be as successful as GP2 in revealing young drivers able to jump to the next step. We are looking forward to 2010.”
We’ll be watching this space with considerable interest. Nothing appears on the gp3series.com domain as yet, by the way.