Gerhard Berger is on animated form. As president of the FIA's Single Seater Commission, he's invited AUTOSPORT to his Monaco office to explain the methodology behind his recent moves - particularly in Formula 3 - that frequently so irritate or infuriate those in the UK. You can't really call it a bridge-building exercise - his passion and zeal are too intense to placate those who have already decided on a 'them-and-us' stance - but it provides a great insight into the man and his ambitions.
Let's clear one thing up first. For years people have been ranting about the FIA not doing enough to clean up the cluttered junior ranks. Then, when Berger took over the Commission's presidency two and a half years ago from Barry Bland (a much more consensus-driven, subtle character than Berger), they complained about the radical measures the Austrian was taking to do just that.
While Bland's primary focus had been on finding a way forward with a new Formula 4 concept, to harmonise the baffling mixture of first-step-out-of-karting choices, Berger went straight for the middle category: F3. His first move was to reinstate the FIA F3 European Championship for 2012, piggybacking rounds of the F3 Euro Series and British F3. In '13, the Euro Series made way completely for the European Championship and British F3 was effectively squeezed out, downsizing to four rounds before refocusing on cheaper rules for '14, using the old production powerplants that had been replaced by bespoke racing engines in the FIA's series.
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Marcus Simmons is the deputy editor of Autosport magazine. As a child he was a regular on the chalk banks of Thruxton, before becoming an MSA timekeeper at the age of 17. Shortly afterwards, he started reporting for Motoring News and joined the staff in 1990.
After abandoning a parallel Formula First career – which had been as incident-packed as his childhood equestrian exploits – he moved to Autosport in 1996. Since then he has had two stints as a freelance and a brief spell as editor of Motor Sport magazine, during which the revered green cover was revived, before rejoining Autosport in 2008. He lives in Twickenham with his partner, two daughters, cat and guitars.