How the post-Renault 3.5 series is shaping up
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How the post-Renault 3.5 series is shaping up

By:
, Peter Mills

When Renault ended its support of its 3.5 Formula, there were fears about the category's future. But as PETER MILLS explains, the rebadged FV8 3.5 series has retained an appeal to drivers

The announcement of five additional driver signings to the rebranded Formula V8 3.5 series last week has gone a long way to tackling fears over how the series will manage without the support of a major Formula 1-affiliated manufacturer following Renault's withdrawal.

Reigning champion team Fortec Motorsports completed its line-up by confirming Formula 3 graduate Pietro Fittipaldi - filling a seat that was coveted by several drivers. After negotiations with Fittipaldi's Mexican manager Fernando Plata were successfully concluded, a blockage in the driver market was removed.

With more than two months to go until the start of the season, Pons Racing duly announced both its drivers and fellow Spanish team Teo Martin Motorsport - a series newcomer - reached agreement with EuroFormula Open race winner Yu Kanamaru.

Those deals alone don't prove the series' long-term health, but there's clear optimism among the teams who stayed loyal into the new era.

"I am positive about how the championship is shaping up," assessed Fortec manager director Jamie Dye. "Fortec has been in far worse positions at this time of the year, as has the championship. 2010 was much tougher. I am not sure what is happening in every team, but by my count there are 14 deals done and the first test isn't until March 29-30."

Following the decision by Renault last year to end its overt support to the category, 3.5 teams pledged to work closely together to ease the transition to now lone promoter RPM, the Barcelona-based company that jointly created the World Series by Renault package. Strakka Racing team manager Dan Walmsley confirmed that collaboration has been ongoing.

"The motorsport community is close," said Walmsley, who is also involved in Strakka's World Endurance Championship programme. "I have been speaking to other 3.5 teams' general managers and team principals. If a team has had talks with a driver who perhaps doesn't quite have the budget, they will pass on the contacts to another team who might be able to offer a deal.

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Series Formula V8 3.5
Author Peter Mills