FEBRUARY 18, 2004
British Formula 3 hotting up
An entry list for the 2004 British Formula 3 series is now beginning to build up and the teams have been testing for the first time this winter. For the moment there are still some important drives left available but most of the major players are now in place. The favourite for the title is Nelson Piquet Jr, who is going into the new season with his own Piquet Sports team. Piquet won six races in 2003 and so should have the experience and racecraft to see off his challengers although Carlin Motorsport, which won the title in 2003 with South African Alain Van de Merwe, will be a big threat with three serious challengers for the title in Clivio Piccione, SudAm Formula 3 Champion Danilo Dirani and Alvaro Parente. There has been much talk in recent weeks about Adam Carroll becoming Carlin's fourth driver but the Aldershot-based team has failed to find the money needed.
There is plenty of competition in Britain, despite the fact that Manor Motorsport has headed off to race in Europe with Lewis Hamilton. Hitech Racing will run four cars for British drivers Andrew Thompson and James Walker, Brazil's Luca di Grassi and Estonian Marko Asmer. Hitech was new to the series last year but won races with Danny Watts. All the drivers come from strong backgrounds and so sokme reputation are going to be made and broken this year. Asmer has tested for the Williams F1 team on several occasions while di Grassi is part of the Renault's Driver Development Programme.
Alan Docking Racing is to run 19-year-old Alex Lloyd, who was runner-up in British Formula Renault last year, and Australian Will Power, who is going into his second year in British F3. There have also been suggestions that Docking will run a car in the Scholarship class for Renault V6 Eurocup refugee Adam Langely-Khan
There is no word as yet on Promatecme but Fortec has announced that it will be running a car for James Rossiter, one of the frontrunners in Formula Renault in 2003. Rossiter has impressed many with his speed because he did very little karting before starting car racing.
"James is a phenomenal talent and I don't care if he's a rookie - we are confident he can win races and the title at his first attempt," says Richard Dutton. "Some people are talking up Nelson Piquet Junior as the championship favourite, but I rate James's natural ability to be higher than Piquet's."
Menu F3 Motorsport will run Australian Will Davison and Malaysia's Fairuz Fauzy. The 2001 Australian Formula Ford Champion hopes to start winning this year after a difficult learning year.
Roly Vincini's P1 Racing will run Venezuela's Ernesto Viso and Canadian Billy Asaro. Viso won the Scholarship title with the team last year and has decided to continue in the top level while Asaro has a good reputation and now needs to start delivering.
T-Sport will be running India's Karun Chandhok, who moves up to the Championship class after a decent year at the Scholarship level. Chandhok has high hopes of becoming the first Indian to race in Formula 1. It is expected that he will be joined by Britain's Steven Kane while Formula Palmer Audi champion Ryan Lewis will run with the team in the Scholarship class.
There will probably be more announcements in the weeks ahead but already British F3 is building up for a good season, in which we will see some of the stars of the future up against one another.
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