The British Formula 3 Championship is a competition in which open wheeled single seater racing cars compete against each other. The emphasis in the F3 championship has always been on equality, affordability, and promoting young talent.
As such, the competition has quickly found its natural place in the logical hierarchy of formula racing which also includes Formula 1. This means that its drivers, who are mostly around 20 years old, use it as a stepping stone towards higher classes of formula racing.
Launching Pad for Talents
When Clement Novalak was crowned as the 2019 F3 champion he said that he was honoured to be in the same company of Jackie Stewart, Ayrton Senna, and Mika Hakkinen as a British F3 champion. That’s probably the only way to describe the race which has been a launching pad for so many ultra successful drivers.
In fact, all four finalists of the Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award for 2019 have actually raced in the British F3 at some point in their careers. That’s why it is not a surprise when people say that they cannot wait for the new 2020 season to start and see the most promising young F3 drivers at Oulton Park from April 11 to April 13.
All F3 drivers sit behind the wheel of the Tatuus-Cosworth BRDC British F3 car. The Tatuus-Cosworth is a beast of a car which is powered by a 2-litre 230bhp spec Cosworth engine. One of the key things which make the Tatuus-Cosworth almost as powerful as European Formula 3 is its aerodynamic set-up. It includes an adjustable front wing and two piece rear wing. In addition, it also has an F1 style front splitter and also boasts a rear diffuser.
The Tatuus comes with a six-speed sequential gearbox with paddle shift. This is supplied by gearbox specialists for motorsport, Sadev. The tires, both dry and wet, are from Pirelli and the braking system is supplied by AP Racing.
The Top Contenders
This year there will be 18 drivers contesting for the 2020 BRDC British F3 champion title. Each team will pitch in with either 2 or 3 drivers. Current champion’s Clement Novalak’s team, Carlin, for example, will go into the new season with Novalak, Kaylen Frederick and Lucas Peterson behind the wheels.
Other drivers which will try to complete the same feat as the legendary Emerson Fittipaldi and Nelson Piquet include Ayrton Simmons and Nazim Azman from Chris Dittmann Racing and Hampus Ericsson, Pavan Ravishankar, and Neil Verhagen from Double R Racing.
Last year’s runner-up, Jonathan Hoggard will once again be a serious contender for the top spot and he will be helped in his quest by Fortec Motorsports team mates Kris Wright and Manuel Maldonado. Lastly, Douglas Motorsport’s Kiern Jewis and Ulysse De Pauw will also be strong candidates once again and they will be aided by their American team mate Benjamin Pedersen.
As can be seen from that list of potential winners, the British F3 championship abounds in international driving talent. This is because the race is open to international drivers even though races are held on British circuits.
In 2020, there will be 24 races on 8 circuits which will take place from April 11 and will end on September 20 at Donington Park. In addition to the opening three rounds which are held at Oulton Park and the curtain closing three rounds at Donington, there are also other illustrious circuits for drivers to show their talents on.
These include Snetterton 300, the home to rounds 4, 5, and 6 and the legendary Silverstone GP circuit which hosts rounds 7, 8, and 9 in addition to rounds 16, 17 and 18. It is also worth mentioning that in addition to these British circuits, there are three rounds held at the Belgian circuit Spa.
Format Ideal for Excitement
Because the BRDC F3 championship is comprised of 24 races across 8 events it is perfect for organizers to play a little with the starting grid of each session and provide maximum excitement to fans.
During the three days in which an event takes place, there is a 20 minute qualifying session and three 20 minute races. It is these three 20 minute races which make the British F3 championship different from other competitions.
In them, the grid for the first session is set in qualifying order. The grid for the second session is actually something which is rarely seen in racing as it is a reverse grid comprised of session one finishers, but in full reverse order. Lastly, the third session is in order of each driver’s second fastest lap in qualifying.
This guarantees that an event will be very exciting and that all drivers will have a chance to be both in front of the grid and at the very back. This means that only the most skilful drivers will collect the most points after an event has finished.
When it comes to points, they are scored from 35 for a win to 1 for last place in races one and three. For the reverse grid race, points are scored from 20 for a win to 1 for the driver in 15th place.
Sponsorship and Coverage
The main sponsor of the British F3 circuit is the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) and hence the name BRDC Formula 3 championship. The BRDC works on an invitation only principle and owns and operates the Silverstone circuit.
One of the key differences between the BRDC and other competition’s sponsors is that the BRDC puts the emphasis on promoting and supporting young racing drivers and instead of on making profit. As BRDC Vice President Derek Warwick says, the BRDC provides the path towards Formula 1 in the most competitive arena possible for young drivers and that is its main operational focus.
In addition to the BRDC, the British F3 races also have tons of other sponsors and partners like any other top competition. These include brands such as Pirelli, Autosport, Cosworth, Sadev, Sunoco, and MSV which is actually the BRDC’s biggest partner.
All F3 races are broadcast on TV and are followed by a dedicated fan base of F3 racing aficionados, journalists and pundits. In 2019 there was an enhanced TV offering via live online streams and in 2020 it shouldn’t be any different.
Fans can expect to be able to see full HD live streams of the Sunday races in particular, including those at Spa. These come with detailed on-screen graphics and that is great when trying to follow race positions and intervals between drivers.
An expert commentator is also part of the package which comes for those following Sunday races online. This is probably going to be one of established F3 commentators such as David Addison, Martin Haven or Andy McEwan. Fans are already familiar with David Addison as he was the designated F3 commentator for the ITV4 highlights programme.
Finally, the BRDC Formula 3 Championship has its own Facebook, Twitter and Instagram sites which help in creating a better outreach to fans and Formula 3 enthusiasts.