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The chassis for the FIA Formula 3 European Championship has been significantly updated for the coming season. For 2017 safety and performance upgrades have been implemented which will visibly change the appearance of the race cars.

In accordance with the extension of the homologation period to 2019 the FIA has introduced updated safety standards including latest FIA Formula One safety developments. The nose has been lowered, minimising the risk of a car getting airborne when hitting a rear tyre of another car whilst having the added benefit of a more aggressive F1-style appearance.

The front impact structure has been updated, which results in an increase of the impact energy absorption by about 25 per cent. In line with Formula One safety regulations, additional secondary U-shaped intrusion panels (“Zylon” panels) have been added to the sides and bottom area on the front of the car to increase stability.

The survival cell of the monocoque has been fitted with additional padding to protect drivers’ legs. Furthermore, wheel tethers have been upgraded to sustain forces of up to 6kJ instead of 4kJ, to further minimise the risk of wheels getting detached from the chassis in case of a crash.

The 2017 safety upgrades follow safety improvements to the roll-hoop which have already been implemented in the previous season, adding an additional carbon-aluminium structure to protect the heads of drivers in case of roll-over incidents.

Simultaneously the regulations have been amended for aerodynamic parts which should enhance the performance of the car. The performance upgrades include new front wing endplates and outer front wing flaps for increased aerodynamic performance. The changes are mirrored in the rear wing with adjusted rear wing end plates and wing profiles to retain the car’s balance.

In addition, an extended diffusor size will result in increased downforce and reduced drag, hence improving the aerodynamic efficiency of the car.

Stefano Domenicali, President of the FIA Single-Seater Commission commented: “This is a very important step in the evolution of the series, not only because of the improvement in performance and safety of the cars, but also because it gives stability to the rules which is fundamental to keep costs under control. These changes are undoubtedly in line with the concept of making the series more affordable."

"Despite the initial outlay to implement the upgrades, the returns will greatly outweigh the investment as these new-spec cars not only offer a more attractive package for teams and drivers, but also ensure that the chassis homologation period can be extended. Consequently, it prevents the teams from having to buy new cars as they can compete with the current chassis over the next three years while safety is not compromised and a performance gain is guaranteed.”

Robert Maas, FIA Formula 3 Technical Delegate commented: “The new upgrades to the F3 chassis mean increased safety for competitors and improved aerodynamic performance, handling and driveability of the cars. The full kit is available from the chassis manufacturer now and will be used by teams for testing next month. Then we will also find out exactly how much faster the new car will be.”

Domenicali talked also about the current situation of the FIA F3 field. “In 2016 we took the important decision to introduce limits to the number of entries in order to avoid the troubles we sometimes had in the previous year when there were up to 37 participants in a single event."

"This made management really difficult and was detrimental not only to the show, but also to the environment that the drivers need to make the best out of their experience in the category. With a more selective grid, it naturally increases the level of quality of the drivers.

This happened in coincidence with a difficult moment for all the young categories, as the numbers confirm: while in 2015 the cumulative number of drivers racing in F3, Formula Renault and GP3 was 87, it decreased to 70 in 2016, 22 of which as an average raced in our championship."

"In this climate, I believe FIA F3 has emerged as the strongest package for drivers moving up the single-seater pyramid. This year, it looks like we may have a slightly higher number of competitors, allowing us to reach the self-imposed limit which we feel is the optimum balance between quality and quantity.”

2017 is shaping up to be a tantalising prospect, with the best teams fielding top junior talent across Europe. Domenicali’s predecessor as the Single-Seater Commission President Gerhard Berger, agrees, and added, “2017 looks like it will be a great year for F3. There are a lot of very talented young drivers coming in, and they will face a tough challenge from the more experienced guys."

"The racing last season was really close but for the most part it was clean and fair. That’s the environment we should be encouraging, and to see the updates to the car for this year and the efforts to cut costs, it should make things even better.”

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The now finalised 10-round 2017 FIA Formula 3 European Championship will see teams and drivers race in eight different countries on some of Europe’s most iconic tracks. The series will again compete in the support programme of high profile host series like its long-term partner DTM, the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC), the Blancpain GT Series and the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).

After a one-year absence from the UK, the season kick off is set for Silverstone in the support programme of WEC in mid-April. It will be followed by a round at the traditional Italian circuit of Monza together with WTCC. In mid-May, the calendar features a true season highlight: the GP de Pau in France, where Formula 3 is the main event. The first appearance on the DTM platform is scheduled for the Hungaroring (Hungary) four weeks later. The first half of the season will be completed with another round in the support programme of DTM, the meeting at Nuremberg’s Norisring. After the summer break the FIA Formula 3 European Championship will join the Blancpain GT Series and race at the challenging circuit of Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium). For the events at Zandvoort (The Netherlands) and Nürburgring (Germany), the FIA Formula 3 European Championship will again join the paddock of the DTM teams. Spielberg is next up in the championship, with September now confirmed for the event at Austria’s Red Bull Ring. The season will be completed with the traditional season finale at Hockenheim (Germany).

“We once again succeeded in creating a calendar including an attractive mix of former and current Formula One World Championship venues,” comments Walter Mertes, CEO ‘Formel 3 Vermarktungs GmbH’. “I believe the calendar offers a good combination of different circuit characteristics for young drivers to further develop their skills. At the same time providing drivers and teams with the opportunity to showcase themselves on top level motorsport platforms like WEC, WTCC, DTM and the Blancpain GT Series.”

The 2017 Formula 3 European Championship calendar:

14 - 16 April 2017

Silverstone (Great Britain) [WEC]*/**

29 - 30 April 2017

Monza (Italy) [WTCC]*/**

20 - 21 May 2017

Pau (France) [F3 GP]

17 - 18 June 2017

Hungaroring (Hungary) [DTM]*

1 - 2 July 2017

Norisring (Germany) [DTM]

28 - 29 July 2017

Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) [Blancpain GT Series]**

19 - 20 August 2017

Zandvoort (The Netherlands) [DTM]

9 - 10 September 2017

Nürburgring (Germany) [DTM]*

23 - 24 September 2017

Red Bull Ring - Spielberg (Austria) [DTM]*

14 - 15 October 2017

Hockenheim (Germany) [DTM]

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The FIA together with the promoter of the series, Formel 3 Vermarktungs GmbH, are continuously working on enhancing the value of the championship for drivers and teams.

With the changes to the 2017 Technical Regulations, an important step has already been taken to reduce the costs of competing, while at the same time establishing performance equity. The Sporting Regulations have also been carefully examined and the following changes have been implemented for the upcoming season.

Eligible drivers

To highlight the character of FIA F3 European Championship being a young drivers’ series an age limit of 25 years has been imposed for drivers intending to participate in the championship in 2017. The maximum number of complete seasons the drivers are permitted to compete in the FIA F3 European Championship has been increased from three to four seasons, with at least two consecutive seasons being considered ideal. The obligation of taking part in a FIA driver training course has proven successful and will remain in place. The measure was introduced in 2016 to ensure that drivers are prepared for the upcoming season and have fundamental knowledge of what to expect when joining the championship – especially coming from FIA Formula 4.

Prize money and reduced entry fees

As already communicated the FIA has introduced a prize money fund for rookie drivers for 2016. It has now been confirmed that the incentive will remain in place in 2017 and will even be increased and expanded to also include the team and driver championships this year.

For 2017 the entry fee and also the late entry fee for teams have been reduced. For the entry fee an amount of 2,000€ multiplied by the number of events on the calendar (up to a maximum of 18,000€) has been agreed, while the late entry fee now is set at 3,000€ per driver, car and event taken part in. The submission period of the final entry application has been extended and is possible from the 16th of January to one week before the first official test in 2017, provided a pro-forma entry application has been submitted in December last year. The maximum number of cars a competitor may enter for the championship remains at four.

Testing

As in previous years the 2017 Sporting Regulations grant each driver twelve test days, consisting of six official and six private days. However, the rules on private testing have been tightened. Since December 18th 2016 no private testing is allowed in any type of car on any circuit being part of the Championship calendar. This means that an unrivalled amount of mileage per season – one of the main characteristics of F3 – will be maintained while at the same time costs are kept on an affordable level and performance advantages by testing a non F3 car on a championship circuit are eliminated.

Engine

The multi engine approach is an integral part of Formula 3’s DNA and will also remain in place in the upcoming season, thus allowing multiple engine manufacturers and tuners to supply the teams.

Last year the World Motor Sport Council has voted to extend the homologation period for the F3 engine by two years until the end of December 2019 in order to align it with the chassis homologation period. This will result in cost reduction as the engines will be used without further development for two more years, while the alignment of the chassis and engine homologation period assures further costs savings.

Addressing the current financial landscape and allowing for a predictable budget, the running costs for one engine through a calendar year as per regulation do not exceed 65,000€. Items like service costs have been included in order to avoid unregulated or hidden costs and allow for more transparency.

The rules on penalties for engine replacements have been reviewed for 2017. While engine changes will still be harshly penalised if considered out of performance reasons, for replacements due to mechanical or electrical failures following the judgement of the FIA Technical Delegate a one-time ten grid place penalty will be imposed on the next race the driver will compete in (instead of facing the same penalty for three races as was the rule in the previous seasons). If the engine change becomes necessary following an accident on track and the accident is judged to have been caused by a third party, no penalty will be incurred.

Staff and truck limitation

For the upcoming season a staff limit for race weekends has be introduced. The respective amount of operational team members has been established in close cooperation with the competitors and should guarantee better cost control and sporting fairness. Furthermore, a limitation on the number of trucks and trailer units being allowed in the paddock per team has been added to the 2017 Sporting Regulations. This should prevent teams on spending budget on unnecessary paddock structures and establish a reasonable and even level for all teams.

Data sharing

Teams have agreed to share information on throttle, brake and speed after the first qualifying session. The respective data from the fastest lap of the fastest driver of each of the two fastest teams will be made available to all competitors. This should help smaller, less experienced teams and generate closer competition among the drivers.

Aerodynamics

The 2017 Technical Regulations already include the rule that from the coming season any bodywork visible from the outside of the car must be used exactly as designed by the rolling chassis manufacturer. To comply with the new rule no changes on existing parts can be made and no extra parts can be added to the car to create an aerodynamic advantage, hence costly wind tunnel testing will become unnecessary. The 2017 Sporting Regulations are even more explicit and ban any wind tunnel testing altogether. Instead, the rolling chassis manufacturers are required to supply the aerodynamic data of the rolling chassis used by the competitor to the respective team. This measure eliminates the costly wind tunnel tests, but at the same time guarantees that teams have appropriate aerodynamic data to work with.

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With tears in his eyes and the Portuguese anthem in his ears, Antonio Felix da Costa yesterday lifted the first FIA F3 World Cup of the modern era high above his head.

Felix da Costa caps his 2016 racing season with motor sport history, taking the victory for Portugal, for Carlin and winning the FIA F3 World Cup for engine manufacturers for Volkswagen.

His fourth visit to the iconic Guia street circuit, the Felix da Costa is the third driver to claim two wins at the Macau Grand Prix, along with GT driver Edoardo ‘Mr Macau’ Mortara, and Felix Rosenqvist who finished second to Felix da Costa this year.

Felix da Costa’s drive at the Macau Grand Prix was a matter of passion.

“It was a special day for me,” he said. “My car had zero sponsors. Trevor [Carlin] called me up and said we are going to try and find a sponsor to pay your salary. I said ‘Trevor, it doesn’t matter. You called me up. Let’s do it’. BMW allowed me to come. I didn’t care about the money this weekend. It’s all about coming here. To enjoy this car and this track.”

Starting from pole, a consistent top-end performance saw the 25 year old top both Saturday’s qualification race and Friday’s qualifying session amidst multiple incidents. 

To the cheers of a crowd thrilled with a stunning 15 lap performance, Felix da Costa’s Macau Grand Prix’s experience was on show throughout. Duelling with Sergio Sette Camara and Felix Rosenqvist for the lead, Felix da Costa visualized the race as it happened.

“I didn’t have any pressure on myself until today I woke up with a different feeling. I have to do it. I was putting so much pressure on myself… I’m so happy that I came away with that and the race win.”

 “I imagined every scenario in my mind last night before going to bed, and they all happened. Losing the lead, getting back the lead, restarting from P2, restarting from the lead. It looks like I had a good plan.”

The DTM and FIA Formula E driver said that his victory in F3 had proven his point, with 2016 to be his final appearance at the Macau Grand Prix in an open wheel category.

“I will never come back to Macao in an F3 car.”

“The experience helped me here, but this race is for them [rookie drivers]. Most of these drivers are going to end up in Formula 1, and we have to let them win this race. I can’t interfere. I am happy that I came, happy that I won it. I have proved my point, and now I am going to come back with the old boys and race in the GTs.”

 

         

 

 

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