Former Formula 1 racer Gerhard Berger believes the FIA are closing in on a strategy to decide the future of Formula 3.
During the summer, Berger outlined the category as a key step in the development of drivers looking to one day reach Formula 1.
Berger – the president of the FIA Single Seater Commission – has been a vocal supporter of F3 and was in attendance the Hockenheimring at the weekend to award the prizes for the top three finishers of the FIA European F3 Championship,
In a brief chat on Sunday morning with the 53-year-old, Berger, who competed in F3 from 1982-84, was keen to emphasise the importance of the category to the development of young drivers. Berger noted “I think [Formula 3] is the core. It was always the centre of the junior programmes. You have Formula 2 or GP2 and there is karting, but Formula 3 is the centre.
“I think it’s the moment where a driver where he either becomes a professional or a hobby driver. The boys are 17 to 18 years old and it is the first time that you really can see if he has the skills for more.”
“Formula 3 has a very strong history and technically it is (…) a proper racecar. You have things to change, you have to set up and you have aerodynamics, so I think we have to start to build here.”
Despite his positive outlook, the Austrian remained somewhat vague when pressed upon the future structure of junior categories,
“[F3] will be settled in the next four weeks and by Macau, we will have a very clear picture. I think GP2 is a strong series; it is not missing something – OK, it’s not FIA, but that’s not a big deal at the moment. It is the second priority, but it cannot come this year. It is more important to fill the gap between karting and Formula 3.”
With murmurs that the price of a top drive in the GP2 Series is closing in on £2 million, while F3 hangs around the £700,000 mark, the FIA are finding cracks beyond the mere structure of the minor categories.
However while Berger pointed out that costs can be reduced, there is only so much that the FIA can achieve in the short term.
“We can lead it in a good direction, as we now have the cars frozen for more or less four years, no big developments, so it’s already quite flat on budget and then the new engine is going to come.” Berger added that “…when the engine is fully in place by 2014, it should be a €50,000 per year engine with 10,000 km (life), so that’s a big step. Today it’s €100,000 and that’s too much.”