We live in a time when nothing is what it seems. A time when people are confused and in which all that once was clear is now in a blurry haze. Except… hold on! That’s how it always was. Can you really remember a time when “the path” to Formula 1 was actually a motorway? With signs and lanes and good signaling? Never. It was always a game of “where should we race?” and “who should be the engineer?” or “do we actually need to pay that much?”. Now it just got a bit random because of the reshuffling of the racing scene, but it’s actually not that complicated and not a lot has actually changed.
Here’s a guide, because we love structured stuff:
- If you come from F4
You are the only one who knows what your true level is. Be honest with yourself and try to make the right decision based on what you still have to learn. If you come from F4 (and did well in it), then look towards a bigger car with a bit more downforce. Regional F3 or the new “Renault F3” are good options but because they both feature new cars, we would recommend having a look at British F3 instead. The budgets are better and the cars have been running for several years, meaning there will be no technical issues and the championship is well organised. Teams in England are very professional so there’s probably a choice between 3 or 4 good ones, with 3 cars each.
- If you come from Renault Eurocup, British F3 or Euroformula Open
British F3 and Eurocup Renault are good cars but you need to add some “wings” in your life. Meaning you should learn a bit about how to use the aero and how to trust it in a car so the recommendation is to do the DTM Formula 3. It will lose it’s “FIA European Formula 3” name but that doesn’t matter. It will still be a strong championship, with really professional people in it and the cars have been around forever, which means there is very little room for surprises there. Bonus point: the budgets are going to be lower next season. Not a lot lower, but enough to make it attractive for many good drivers. There will be about 5 teams doing it so there’s plenty of choice there and you’re in front of the DTM people. If you come from Euroformula Open it’s straight forward and you’ll be amazed about how the “real F3” cars drive.
- If you come from FIA F3 or GP3
After a strong seasons and with a good budget we recommend you jump to Formula 2. There is no reason (absolutely none!) to risk having a mediocre year in the new “International F3” with 30 cars on the grid and possibly no chance to actually show what you can do because of limited track space in quali. Also very little mileage and limited testing means your development will suffer.
If you were mid-pack in the FIA F3, you’re probably better off staying in that championship and trying to win it, while also learning a bit more on the way. Same for GP3 people in regards to the International F3. Whatever you do, don’t overspend trying to be in “the best teams”. All teams are good. Some just work better with the drivers so it’s all about who you “click” with.
In a nutshell: of course the discussion needs to be deeper and this list doesn’t necessarily apply to each individual but it can help give you an idea of how to go about it. You have to consider testing, a structured winter preparation program (which not many people can offer this year) and it needs to put the driver’s development in the centre. We can do that for you so get in touch if you need more information. An email or a call might give you some clarity and won’t cost you anything.