Christian Horner Q&A

The International Formula 3000 championship had a tough season in 2003, and at times struggled to field a full grid of cars. At a recent meeting of the FIA World Council, the category's status for next year was listed as provisional, with the sport's governing body specifying that at least 18 cars must be entered for the series for it to go ahead in 2004. One of the biggest proponents of the series is Arden team boss Christian Horner, who won the title in 2003 with driver Bjorn Wirdheim. James Attwood spoke to him about the future of the championship and Arden's plans for 2004

Christian Horner Q&A

"The FIA status is reasonably clear, but a championship is never confirmed by the FIA until all the entries are submitted and entry fees from the teams have been received. It's really nothing too out of the ordinary. We've already got a minimum of nine teams confirmed for next season, so it's looking better than it was at this time last year. There's been plenty of interest in the championship, so I'm really not worried."

"It was a tough year, but that wasn't isolated to Formula 3000. If you look at all motor sport, it was a tough year all round. The weaker and less well supported teams did struggle.

"One of the problems that F3000 has is a perception that there are too many choices immediately below Formula 1. Along with F3000, there's Dallara Nissan, Formula Renault V6 and the Euro F3000 series. That makes it confusing for young drivers, and it also means that there are 80 cars that need filling to ensure healthy grids in all the series. However, I'm hopeful that what will be established in the near future is a clear route for young drivers to follow into F1."

"This would be a great prospect and hopefully the idea will go forward, for the benefit of the championship. Nothing's official, but it definitely would be a step in the right direction for the series as F3000 has a lot to offer. We give drivers the chance to race in front of F1 team bosses nine or ten times a season, and that's a major boost. If you look at Arden's drivers this season [Bjorn Wirdheim and Townsend Bell], both of them have been given good opportunities to test with different F1 teams.

"The biggest asset that F3000 has is that we compete in front of the grand prix teams. F1 is a very blinkered sport, so it's very rarely that they look anywhere other than under their own noses. So if you perform like Bjorn did in F3000 this year, you're going to get noticed by F1 team bosses. I don't think you can necessarily say that about other series."

"They're progressing well. We'll be announcing our plans at AUTOSPORT International on January 8. We've had a great season in 2003. We won both titles, and it will be difficult to better the 2003 season. However, this is our target and we will try our very best to achieve it. We've looked at several good young drivers over the winter, and I think that interest in F3000 at the moment is bigger than it has been for many years."

"The problem for Bjorn is that F1 at the moment is a fiscally driven market. Pretty much every option in F1 for a race drive requires financial backing, which is a great shame for a talented driver. But Bjorn is looking at a number of potential testing opportunities with F1 teams, and is also considering various race offers from the US."

"It depends on the offers and the opportunities that come from the teams. I think if Bjorn was to test next season, he'd also want to do some form of racing as well. We will look at all the options, and hopefully we'll have something sorted in the next few weeks."

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