Ben Barnicoat linked to 2016 European F3 switch, tests with Hitech

British Formula Renault ace Ben Barnicoat is testing with new Formula 3 European Championship team Hitech Grand Prix, raising speculation that he may not be joining Prema Powerteam after all

Ben Barnicoat linked to 2016 European F3 switch, tests with Hitech

The two-time McLaren Autosport BRDC Award finalist was announced last month on a BT Sport appearance with his backer, the Racing Steps Foundation, as racing with Prema in 2016.

But this week has started with Barnicoat testing for Hitech alongside George Russell and Nikita Mazepin at Jerez, while Prema is running Nick Cassidy, Maximilian Gunther, Lance Stroll and Ralf Aron at the same track.

Barnicoat will move on to the Algarve Circuit to test with Fortec Motorsport on Thursday and Friday.

The RSF's Derek Walters did not want to comment on Barnicoat's testing other than to say that nothing was finalised for 2016 and that it is an opportunity to give him car time.

The presence of Japanese F3 champion Cassidy with Prema further raises the prospect that he could be making a European return in 2016, a few weeks after he tested with Van Amersfoort Racing.

Also out at Jerez is Mucke Motorsport, with Formula 4 aces Robert Shwartzman and David Beckmann as well as Hong Kong's Matt Solomon, who raced for Double R Racing this season.

AUSSIES JOIN F3 TEST AT VALENCIA

Four European F3 teams are in action at Valencia as one week of testing kicks off at the city's permanent circuit.

Australian F4 champion Jordan Lloyd and runner-up Tom Randle are testing with Carlin and T-Sport respectively.

While Lloyd's run is a prize for winning the F4 crown, Randle is seriously considering a 2016 F3 campaign and is driving T-Sport's NBE-engined car alongside Arjun Maini, who is putting further mileage on the Tomei/ThreeBond powerplant.

Carlin's line-up for Monday's running is completed by Raoul Hyman, Ryan Tveter and Tanart Sathienthirakul.

Motopark continues its testing programme with newly announced Red Bull juniors Sergio Sette Camara and Niko Kari, as well as German F4 runner-up Joel Eriksson and 2015 T-Sport driver Julio Moreno.

Van Amersfoort Racing has three cars out, with Japanese Formula Renault race winner Ukyo Sasahara joining Callum Ilott and Harrison Newey.

Pedro Piquet, returning from winning the Brazilian F3 finale at Interlagos, replaces Ilott on Tuesday, with Piquet and Ilott then driving for the rest of the week.

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