FIA's Gerhard Berger hints at old engines for 2013 Macau F3 GP

FIA Single-Seater Commission president Gerhard Berger has given the clearest indication yet that this year's Macau Grand Prix Formula 3 race will not include cars powered by engines built to the new regulations

FIA's Gerhard Berger hints at old engines for 2013 Macau F3 GP

Moves had been made for Macau, F3's flagship race, to be solely for all-new powerplants this November to herald the new rules, which will be mandatory in the FIA F3 European Championship in 2014.

But the scheduling of the final two rounds of this year's European championship, at Hockenheim and Paul Ricard, does not allow teams enough time to convert their cars ready for air-freighting to the Far-Eastern event.

With the new engines offering approximately 10 per cent more power, performance-balancing measures have been weighed up by the FIA.

But AUTOSPORT understands that there is not enough room to incorporate the ballast on the current Dallara chassis if this was to be accomplished on weight, and there are reliability concerns if it was done via engine air restrictor tweaks.

"We are looking at different scenarios," said Berger, who was a podium finisher in Macau in 1983. "There is one logic: the engines we are running at the moment."

The likely Macau rules will put teams from the Japanese championship, which did adopt the new regulations for 2013, in a difficult situation. To compete in Macau, they would have to convert their cars back to old-spec engines.

Regarding the Japanese situation, Berger said: "It's a limited number of cars [seven appeared for the opening round in the main championship class]. We have to find the right thing for the sport altogether."

The move could jeopardise participation from the Japanese in Macau.

Top team TOM'S has won more the race more times than any other (with five victories) and has the longest unbroken record of participation (since 1991).

But team boss Susumu Koumi told AUTOSPORT that reverting to old-spec engine, electronics, set-up and driving style (due to the different characteristics of the new engine) would make it extremely difficult to be competitive.

AUTOSPORT SAYS
Marcus Simmons
(@marcussimmons54)

If Joseph Heller were alive today, he would surely be greatly amused by the current situation in Formula 3.

Here's the deal: the Japanese have the only championship running to current FIA rules, yet look likely to be barred from taking their machinery (in its current state) to the FIA's flagship F3 race, because it would comfortably beat all the cars from the FIA's own championship, none of which run to FIA rules.

This particular Catch 22 is an inevitable consequence of events dating back to March 31 2012, the deadline for engine makers wishing to lodge their intention to build new-rules powerplants - and therefore to be granted homologation - for 2013.

For various reasons, Mercedes and Volkswagen didn't meet that deadline. And, with their support absolutely vital to the FIA as it strove to rebuild F3, they (along with Tomei, which did meet the deadline but never really pushed to build a new ThreeBond engine for 2013) were allowed to field their old units in European F3 this season, with guarantees from Merc and VW that they would come on board with the new rules for 2014.

So, as far as European F3 was concerned, the new engines were swept under the carpet - without actually being banned - for 12 months.

But the inevitable bulge in that carpet is Macau, the fact that the Japanese pressed ahead in good faith with the new rules for 2013, and the logistical impossibility for the Europeans to convert their cars.

Having arrived at this point, it's difficult to see what else the FIA can do for Macau, but our sources indicate that the Japanese are none too impressed.

The Japanese have long been an intrinsic part of F3, and TOM'S, Mugen and Toda are all racing new engines this season. Their participation is vital for the long-term strength of the category.

What's more, the TOM'S record in Macau is superior to any European team. The squad has taken victory there with Rickard Rydell, Peter Dumbreck, Darren Manning, Oliver Jarvis and Keisuke Kunimoto.

Berger is correct in saying there is a need to "do the right thing for the sport". Certainly, barring the new engines from Macau 2013 appears to be the 'least wrong' thing, because if they were allowed to compete then the European teams who provide the bulk of the field would find it very tough to sell drives for the event.

That said, the FIA clearly needs to do some bridge-building with the Japanese who, if this goes through, will have been penalised for acting throughout with the best of intentions.

shares
comments
Ed Jones fills vacant Fortec European Formula 3 seat for Hockenheim

Previous article

Ed Jones fills vacant Fortec European Formula 3 seat for Hockenheim

Next article

Ryan Cullen seals GP3 move with Manor

Ryan Cullen seals GP3 move with Manor
Load comments

About this article

Series FIA F3
Author Marcus Simmons
Why Correa's return is the feelgood story racing needed Plus

Why Correa's return is the feelgood story racing needed

Juan Manuel Correa has had a long road to recovery from that horrific day at Spa in 2019. ART's decision to give him his race return in FIA Formula 3 in 2021 is a victory in itself, but his determination will surely - in time - have him fighting for bigger things

FIA F3
Feb 2, 2021
Why Piastri's F3 title was better than results suggested Plus

Why Piastri's F3 title was better than results suggested

F3 rookie Oscar Piastri only just snatched the 2020 title with Prema Racing, but the setbacks he overcame to do so suggest that Renault's next Australian talent is one destined for the top

FIA F3
Jan 12, 2021
The ground-effect wonder behind a generation of F1 stars Plus

The ground-effect wonder behind a generation of F1 stars

Recently named as Autosport's greatest single-seater, Ralt's RT3 launched a plethora of superstar drivers through the early 1980s, and established the constructor as the go-to place for your single-seater weapon

FIA F3
Dec 8, 2020
The Macau GP's greatest moments Plus

The Macau GP's greatest moments

Coronavirus restrictions mean this weekend's Macau GP will have a very different feel, with the usual F3 jamboree replaced by Chinese F4. But in past years, the event has provided some seminal moments in the careers of future world champions

FIA F3
Nov 20, 2020
Rating the prospects of the 2020 F3 title contenders Plus

Rating the prospects of the 2020 F3 title contenders

With the title race finely poised ahead of the final triple-header, a category returnee who raced George Russell in his F3 days lends Autosport his thoughts on the ones to watch

FIA F3
Aug 25, 2020
Why "whirlwind" Tauranac's legacy will stand the test of time Plus

Why "whirlwind" Tauranac's legacy will stand the test of time

The passing of Ralt boss Ron Tauranac last week drew tributes from around the world, not least from the bosses of three prominent teams on whom the Australian designer made a lasting impression

FIA F3
Jul 24, 2020
The young driver Red Bull couldn't ignore Plus

The young driver Red Bull couldn't ignore

Igor Fraga has a more colourful career behind him than any other driver on the FIA Formula 3 grid, and now he's beginning to become as recognised for his talents in real racing as in the virtual world

FIA F3
Jun 21, 2020
The new F3 car that has teams purring Plus

The new F3 car that has teams purring

Dallara has improved upon its old F3 car with the new 320 for this season's Euroformula Open, ensuring that single-seater competition's 'heritage’ category can race into the future

FIA F3
Apr 14, 2020