Australian Formula 3 entrants will be permitted to import the latest model cars from the 2012 season onwards.
With Formula 3 cars manufactured in three to four year model cycles, Australian Formula 3 has traditionally run at least one ‘generation’ behind European series to contain costs and allow for availability of vehicles ex-Europe.
Currently the 2005-2007 generation vehicles are the latest eligible in Australia, with 1999-2004-specification vehicles making up the National class.
That will remain in 2012, however Formula 3 Management has elected to allow a phased introduction of 2008-generation vehicles into the championship beginning on January 1 next year – one year earlier than planned.
Series organisers have said that the early model change is due to overseas interest in the championship.
It also opens up the historic debut of Formula 3 cars at Mount Panorama to more international teams who currently own and operate the 2008-generation vehicles.
New vehicles entering the championship next year will be required to race at 550kg (compared to 540kg for current ‘07’ vehicles) to ensure a balance of performance between the new and old cars. Parity between the cars will be reviews at the end of the season.
Initial interest levels indicate between 3-5 one-year old cars could arrive in the country as soon as January next year.
Formula 3 Management’s Richard Craill says that the early introduction of the new cars is one way to improve field numbers for 2012.
“This process has been carefully planned to ensure that owners with 2007-spec vehicles are not disadvantaged in the short-term,” Craill said.
“Current vehicles in Australia will remain competitive for at least one further season as we phase in the 2008 cars gradually over the course of the season. For the championship it remains the best of both worlds and allows people to get new vehicles if they require whilst those with existing cars maintain their level of competitiveness and performance.
“The critical factors in allowing newer cars in one year earlier were the interest received from international competitors who all have the 2008-generation vehicles, both Dallaras and Mygales. This opens the championship up to them one year earlier than planned and allows them to compete at Bathurst, if they wish, in their own vehicles.
“We have had early discussions with international teams who have heard about F3 going to Bathurst and are keen to be part of it, and this was one of the things standing in their way. It’s no guarantee it will attract more cars to that event, in particular, but it makes it easier to do so.
“We acknowledge that this season numbers have not been strong as we continue with our rebuilding plans, however Formula 3 in Australia cannot stand still – we need to create our own stimulus to grow fields and attract more people to the category and this is one way to do it.”