Ten teams will form the grid when the new GP3 feeder series kicks off next year, with the competitors forming a who’s who of the junior formulas that make up the path to F1.
GP3 is intended to act as a path into GP2, which is itself a feeder for Formula One. The 10 teams, which include GP2 front-runners ART and Addax and many of the top outfits in British F3 International and F3 Euroseries, will each run three cars.
Three British teams are on the list – F3 powerhouse Carlin Motorsport, which has produced the last two British F3 International champions, Manor Racing, from the same stable as the new Virgin F1 team, and Hitech Racing, which runs three cars in Superleague Formula including championship leaders Liverpool FC.
Among the other teams, MW Arden is a partnership between Formula One driver Mark Webber and his boss at Red Bull Christian Horner, who also runs Arden International, to help provide more opportunities for Australian drivers in top-level motorsport.
Also of interest is Status Grand Prix, the team that runs the Team Ireland entry in the A1GP series. Its principal Mark Gallagher recently departed to run the F1 operation at engine suppliers Cosworth, leaving shareholder David Kennedy in charge.
He has recently expressed the intention to press on with A1GP despite the shaky financial footing of that series over the summer. But it is interesting to see the team diversifying, something hinted at by Gallagher after its driver Adam Carroll took the championship in May.
Series organiser Bruno Michel said: “The entry selection process has been thought of very carefully and we have only selected teams that proved to be most successful in their categories. This was of course a very important step for GP3 and I am very pleased to welcome them. I sincerely believe that we enjoy a strong and extremely competitive line-up.
“The philosophy behind GP3 Series is very similar to what we’ve been doing in GP2 for the past five years in terms of car performance, costs control, show, safety and training to access to the following category, but of course adjusted to the level of this new series. Our goal is to reveal young drivers able to jump to the next step.
“Together with these ten teams and our technical partners Dallara, Renault, Pirelli and Hewland, we will work hard to make the GP3 Series a success and I cannot wait for the inaugural season to start.”
The Dallara-Renault series car has been developed over the summer with nine days’ testing at Mugello, Le Castellet and Barcelona.
It was in the hands of experienced GP2 personnel Romain Grosjean and Vitaly Petrov at the wheel, both drivers for the Barwa Addax team. An additional four days will complete the development programme.
The series says that the production process is due to start shortly with three cars delivered to each team in the first weeks of 2010.
The first official test session will take place in March 2010, followed by two other sessions before the opening race weekend as a support event for the European Grand Prix at Valencia on June 27.
The calendar will then follow the Formula One calendar, apart from Monaco and Istanbul, and will also act as a support to the GP2 standalone race, which this year was the season finale at Portimao.
Surrey-based Carlin said of its entry: “Carlin has played an important role in the career of many F1 drivers; in fact of the current grid, more than 40 per cent of today’s F1 drivers have driven a Carlin race car. Carlin intends to continue this heritage with its GP3 team.
“The GP3 Series will offer young drivers a competitive car in a cost-effective series, and also allow drivers to adapt and race in an F1 environment. With a Dallara-designed chassis and a two-litre 280bhp turbo-powered Renault engine, the GP3 championship will perfectly complement Carlin’s other race programmes in Formula 3 and Formula Renault 3.5.”
Team principal Trevor Carlin added: “We are absolutely delighted to have been granted a place in the new GP3 Series.
“You only need to look at the success of GP2 in the short time it has been running to see the possibilities for GP3. We see GP3 as a fantastic stepping stone for teams and drivers to GP2 and F1 and we look forward to an exciting 2010 season.”
- Addax Team (Spain)
- ART Grand Prix (France)
- Carlin Motorsport (Great Britain)
- Hitech (Great Britain)
- Jenzer Motorsport (Switzerland)
- Manor Racing (Great Britain)
- MÃ¼cke Motorsport (Germany)
- MW Arden (Australia)
- Status Grand Prix (Ireland)
- Tech 1 Racing (France)