With the recent announcement that the British Formula 3 series will be cut back to a meagre 4 rounds – only two of which will be held in the UK – the future of British single-seater motor racing looks bleak. Formula 3 was once regarded as a crucial stepping stone to Formula One; it’s a series that has hosted the likes of Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen and Jenson Button among others, and it appears to be in severe decline.
From the bleakness there is a shining light on the horizon. It’s called Formula 4 and it promises to be the most exciting single-seater series in the UK. F4 is the love-child of the BRDC and MotorSport Vision – the company that operate Brands Hatch, Oulton Park and other circuits around the UK.
The series sounds thrilling; Derek Warwick, the president of the British Racing Drivers Club has said “The ‘BRDC Formula 4 Championship’ gives us exactly what our sport is missing; reliability, slicks, wings, good horsepower and affordability.” It’s that last word – affordability – that is perhaps the most important. The reliability, slicks, wings and horsepower are all very well but if the talent behind the wheel is dictated by the depth of their pockets rather than pure talent alone, the paying public will soon lose interest.
MSV Chief Executive Jonathan Palmer has predicted that the championship will re-energise the domestic motorsport scene.
“It is clear that British motorsport needs a new single-seater championship that really attracts the young talent of today,” he said.
“At MSV we have used all of our considerable experience and judgment to launch what I think is a compelling package that I believe will re-energise this sector of motor racing.
“We are in an era of relative austerity, which looks like continuing for some years, and it is essential we provide young single-seater drivers with an affordable path to learn and prove themselves.”
It all sounds excellent so far. There is one concern however; Formula 2 has once again disappeared from the motorsport ladder and although there are doubtlessly many factors to its demise one of them is surely the fact that not many people knew of its existence. Formula 2 was its own championship – a headline act – but if you’ve never heard of the headline act, you’re not going to go to the gig. The worry is that Formula 4 – a brand new concept – isn’t yet ready to fly on its own. It’s encouraging then, that it has also been announced that F4 will be on the support bill of both the DTM and selected F3/GT events. Both series have a large following and if F4 is going to be as exciting as is promised, then gaining a following of its own shouldn’t be a problem.
General consensus is that the series is going to epic; the racing will be dramatic and future stars will feature heavily. With people such as Derek Warwick and Jonathan Palmer at the helm it’s sure to be a success, the only issue is that I’m probably already too old to enter. And too talentless.