With an evolution of the engine, two experienced racing teams and eight young drivers from six nations, Volkswagen starts to the new Formula 3 Euro Series 2008.
The DTM weekend at Hockenheim from 11 to 13 April marks the season opener of the world’s most important junior league, which encompasses ten race weekends in Europe. Last year Volkswagen returned to Formula 3 as an engine supplier in four test events and will contest all of the rounds of the international championship for the first time in 2008.
“Over the past weeks and months Volkswagen carefully prepared for the first complete season in the Formula 3 Euro Series. We augmented our line-up, signed a lot of promising young talent and continued developing our two-litre engine with intensive, detailed work,” says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. “The opening race at Hockenheim is the first real acid test for the numerous pieces of the puzzle which have to fit together perfectly in order to be successful. The air in Formula 3 is extremely thin, that’s why the team, the driver, the chassis and the engine have to interact perfectly. Our goal for the 2008 season is to score points regularly and to manage the leap onto the winners’ podium.”
Volkswagen has a successful history in Formula 3: in the 1980s and 1990s youngsters around the world celebrated exploits with the engines from Wolfsburg, including Michael Schumacher, who – “powered by Volkswagen” – became German champion in 1990. A total of seven titles in the German Formula 3 Championship and 44 other championship titles worldwide impressively document this era. Volkswagen wants to continue this tradition: promising young talent is therefore promoted at an early stage in Formula 3, the best are to evolve into strong driver personalities for the many different motorsport projects of the entire Volkswagen Group.
Development work requires patience
The evolution of the Volkswagen Formula 3 engine, which delivers approximately 210 hp, inevitably took place in small steps: the very restrictive Technical Regulations, which – if for no other than cost reasons – exclude complex technologies and costly materials, limit progress to the use of conventional approaches in engine design. “In Formula 3 the main focus is on performing detailed work in many areas, which, as a whole, result in small advances,” explains Donatus Wichelhaus, Head of Engine Development at Volkswagen Motorsport. “Torque and power output – and thus the drivability of the power plant – are constantly on the agenda. In addition, we looked at the weight of the engine in order to achieve further progress in terms of driving dynamics.” For this refining work, Volkswagen was able to draw on the extensive know-how and the technical resources of the entire Group.
International teams on an international stage
With its partner teams, RC Motorsport and Signature, Volkswagen has two strong squads with extensive experience and a track record of numerous exploits in formula racing. In the 2007 season RC Motorsport was involved in Volkswagen’s new programme from the outset. With over two decades of experience in formula racing, the Italian team based in Lacchiarella near Milan is a seasoned international contender. Guided by Francesco Ravera, great talent like Giancarlo Fisichella, Jarno Trulli, Alessandro Zanardi and Robert Kubica made major strides in their careers before ascending to Formula 1. The Signature team directed by Philippe Sinault ranks among the most distinguished teams in the Formula 3 Euro Series, in which it has clinched nine racing exploits so far. Since its foundation in 1990 the squad based in Bourges, Central France, has scored further impressive successes, including the Formula 3 title in France, victories at the Formula 3 Grands Prix at Zandvoort, in Korea and Macao as well as numerous titles in other formula racing series.
Eight drivers, six nations and ambition galore
Eight young and ambitious men contest the Formula 3 Euro Series for the two Volkswagen teams. They have one thing in common: all of them want to manage the ascent to the top-flight series of professional racing. The German colours are represented by Maximilian Götz from Uffenheim and Jens Klingmann from Leimen. “Last year we finished in the points – we want to continue this and maybe take home a Cup now and then,” announces the 22-year-old Götz, who in 2007 contested four test races with the new Volkswagen engine. Klingmann dominated the Formula BMW Germany series last year and is now entering his first Formula 3 year as a rookie. “I won’t be racing from one victory to the other as the field in Formula 3 is too tight for that. This will be a year of learning, but I’m a quick learner,” says the 17-year-old.
The team-mates of the two Germans at RC Motorsport are the Brit Martin Plowman (20 years of age) and Cong Fu “Franky” Cheng (24) from China. At the wheel for the Signature squad are the Italian Edoardo Mortara (21) and Franck Mailleux from France (22); they are joined by the Red Bull juniors Stefano Coletti (18) from Monaco and Jean Karl Vernay (20) from France.
20 races on ten weekends are on the schedule for the Formula 3 Euro Series youngsters. After the season opener at Hockenheim the series will travel to Mugello (I) and then to the city street circuit of Pau (F). The Norisring in Nuremberg, Zandvoort (NL), the Nürburgring and Brands Hatch (GB) are the other stations of the summer tour. In autumn Barcelona (E) and Le Mans (F) will start the countdown towards the grand season finale at Hockenheim.
- Volkswagen Motorsport