FIA extends European F3 registration after initial 24-car entry

The FIA has extended the deadline for registration for the Formula 3 European Championship after 24 entries were filed by Monday's cut-off date

FIA extends European F3 registration after initial 24-car entry

The governing body took the decision on Monday, in the wake of Autosport's story revealing that four teams were likely to drop out of the championship for 2016.

The initial deadline was moved forward for 2016 owing to the first official test, which takes place at Vallelunga on March 3-4, being two weeks earlier than the corresponding Valencia test in 2015.

In an exclusive interview with Autosport, FIA Single Seater Commission president Stefano Domenicali said: "The championship is in good health. We have an entry of 24 as of today, but what we would like to do is give two more weeks to extend the entry period to make sure the teams that have requested time to finalise some agreement will have the time to do it.

"That was the decision we took yesterday [Monday]. Now we are at 24, I assume that these two weeks will give time to the teams to finalise certain agreements, so at the end of the day we are talking of a grid that is very solid. This is the basis on which we are going to build up the championship."

Domenicali added that last year's championship, which peaked at 35 cars, had too many competitors.

"We had a situation on certain tracks where it was too chaotic and we had races that were not really races, because we had too many safety cars and accidents," he said.

"And also we urged the organisers to make sure that during the race we need to be quicker - safety is a priority, no discussion, but sometimes when you see so many laps for a crane to take a car out of the gravel then that is not what you really want to see. That is something we want to improve because that is fundamental.

"With regard to the championship itself, we as a federation together with ITR [which promotes Euro F3 through its subsidiary Formel 3 Vermarktungs] took the decision to make sure it was stronger.

"Stronger means with a better level of drivers. So we felt that investing in quality instead of quantity was one point that was very important."

It is understood that the 24 registrations are spread across seven teams - Prema Powerteam, Carlin, Van Amersfoort Racing, Mucke Motorsport, Motopark, T-Sport and Hitech Grand Prix - with some not having nominated drivers.

It means there are no entries from Fortec Motorsport, Signature, Double R Racing or Team West-Tec, as well as DAV Racing (which intended to enter in 2016) and Jo Zeller Racing (which planned to return).

While Domenicali is happy with a grid in the twenties, he said that "more teams would be my wish".

"Of course at this moment the situation is not easy," he added.

"We can see in FIA Formula 4, so many drivers are coming into the championship and we are totally surprised by that, and we see on the other hand, at least so far, that at the level of F3/GP3/GP2 the number of drivers that are interested or have the chance to race are a little bit less."

He also played down the effect of the big teams with wealthy investors skewing the driver market.

"The regulations are quite tight, but no one can stop anyone acquiring the best drivers, the best engineers or whatever," he said. "This is the great challenge all the teams have - to compete and fight with the biggest teams.

"From our side we need to make sure that the championship is fair, that the regulations are tight enough to avoid any complication, and we have invested in a group of professional technical and sporting people that will follow the races, and invested in new equipment to make sure the cars are controlled with a top-quality tools by the stewards and technical people.

"I don't want to comment on the voices around the paddock about the fact that certain teams have better chances than others, because it's not first of all my role - I just want to make sure that the people, the drivers, the teams have to know that this is a championship the FIA wants to grow, wants to follow with the right people, with the right level of investment, so all the drivers and the teams have the assurance that everything is done in the proper way."

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