With less than three months to the start of the 2012 British Formula 3 season, the series is slowly beginning to fill out its field, with seven drivers now signed up to compete for the title.
Both Carlin and Fortec have so far announced three drivers each, although that is expected to climb before the championship kicks off in Oulton Park over Easter weekend.
Carlin were the first to reveal a challenger for the coming year with British talent Jack Harvey returning to familiar surroundings. Following the announcement, the 18-year-old Harvey was clear about his intentions:
“I’m really looking forward to staying with Carlin for my second year in British Formula 3. My goal for the season is to win the championship; I have a great team around me at Carlin who I believe can help me to achieve this ambition.”
The Lincolnshire-born racer will be partnered by former-Fortec pilot Harry Tincknell, with Red Bull protégé Carlos Sainz Jr also joining the fray.
For Tincknell, this will be tense return to the wheel, having broken a knuckle joint in right hand during a test at Spa-Francorchamps in November. With his hand close to fully healed, the 19-year-old is determined to focus on winning the championship.
“It was a hefty shunt and a bad injury – the specialist said it was one of the worst he had seen – but I’m really happy with the way my recovery has been going and I’m making progress daily and I’m getting back the full range of movement in my hand. Unfortunately it has interrupted my winter training programme and I’m having to play catch-up now.
“The plan is to hopefully get out on track in a junior car towards the end of the month to make sure my hand can cope with the vibrations and stresses, and then to progress from there. I’m confident that by March I will be back to top form.”
Having run six cars in 2011, Carlin are reducing their efforts to just five entries this year following complaints from opponents. Headed by eventual champion Felipe Nasr and Danish rival Kevin Magnussen, Carlin won eighteen of the thirty races in British Formula 3 last season.
Fortec have already confirmed Pipo Derani for the coming season. After a season with Hitech last year, the Brazilian will be partnered by Formula Renault UK champion, Alex Lynn and Formula Renault Eurocup racer Felix Serralles – both of who raced for Fortec in their previous campaigns.
Following a dominant campaign in 2011, Lynn is undaunted by the challenge ahead:
“I am looking forward to cracking on with F3 now and, hopefully, having nearly as good a season… It’s going to be tough to win the championship, as it is my first year, but I’m confident that if we all work hard and do a good job then we can be fighting for the championship come the end of the year.”
With this latest step looming large, the Puerto Rican Serralles has more modest aims:
“I am very pleased to be racing again with Fortec – I know that they will be the best team for me as I progress to Formula 3 – and very excited to be among the first drivers to try the new car from Dallara. I know that it will be hard to adapt, though, and will be giving it everything.”
It is believed Fortec are to run four cars once again; however there are no indications as to who may be occupying the final seat.
There will be more announcements soon as budgets begin to come together, although there remains the possibility of a slight decrease in numbers for the International Class.
With a new car entering the International Class competition for this year and a new engine package arriving for 2013, rising costs may temporarily limit the viability of the championship.
In the Rookie Class, Formula Ford GB racer Spike Goddard will be joining T-Sport. The rookie category was a troubled one last year, after only three drivers entered over the ten rounds.
The honours eventually went to Kotaru Sakurai, although the Japanese pilot spent much of the season alone in the class. It is hoped that Dallara’s newly grandfathered F308-11 chassis may help boost numbers.