The 2013 German F3 season was all about one team as Lotus took a firm grip on the championship, dominating the teams’ title and taking Marvin Kirchhofer to the drivers’ honours. They also locked out second and third in the driver’s standings with?Artem Markelov edging out?Emil Bernstorff. However, amidst the Lotus dominance, there were other drivers wko impressed across the field, with race victries from the likes of Thomas Jager, John Bryant-Meisner and Gustavo Menezes.
With all of these drivers having now moved on, it’s time for a new crop to take centre stage in one of the most consistently strong national F3 championships.
Lotus make their return with another four-car lineup after a season of complete dominance last year. This year, the Oschersleben-based team will be represented by Nabil Jeffri, Andres Mendez, Indy Dontje and Markus Pommer.
Jeffri joins Lotus after competing in last year’s championship with Italian squad EuroInternational, as he finished eighth in the standings. The Petronas-backed 20-year-old embarks on this new challenge in hopes of working his way up the grid and fighting for the title this season – a task which should be made possible through Motopark’s sheer proven speed. The Malaysian did well in his rookie year, constantly scoring points, but he’ll need to take it a couple of steps further, scoring wins and podiums, if he wants to be a factor in the title race.
Joining the Malaysian is Colombian Formula Renault 2.0 driver Mendez. Having raced in the Star Mazda Championship in 2012, he moved to Europe to race for Mark Burdett Motorsport in the highly competitive Formula Renault 2.0 NEC, showing pace at times but ultimately failing to score any points. The 21-year-old will have to adjust to the car quickly and use the potential he showed at times in the NEC to fight for the occasional podium in the hope of challenging his more experienced teammates.
Dutchman Dontje is a product of Motopark’s great system of drivers and makes the step up to the team’s ATS Formel 3 Cup lineup after competing with them the ADAC Formel Masters series, where he took seventh in 2012 and sixth in 2013. He showed remarkable consistency over the two seasons and will have to use this to his advantage to fight for those top spots at the end of the season.
Rounding out the reigning champions’ lineup is German racer Markus Pommer, who was a late addition to the team – having only been announced last week. The 23-year-old returns to the squad who ran him to seventh in the 2011 ATS Formel 3 Cup. He then went on to race in Formula Two and the Porsche Supercup before returning to single-seaters this season. On experience alone, Pommer will head into the season as the title favourite, and, after he’s already taken a victory in his simultaneous Auto GP campaign, there is no reason why he shouldn’t be able to replicate that this weekend at Oschersleben.
Van Amersfoort Racing
The Dutch squad return to the ATS Formel 3 Cup for another season, having run Gustavo Menezes and?Jordi Weckx in 2013. They bring two Formula Renault 2.0 BARC graduates in Malaysian?Weiron Tan and Briton Sam MacLeod, who the team will be hoping can replicate what?Richie Stanaway did for them in 2011.
Tan, who is a member of Caterham F1 Team Academy, boasts an impressive CV in both karting and car racing. He competed in the Formula Renault 2.0 BARC last season with Fortec Motorsports, finishing second with five wins and nine podiums. He now moves to the ATS Formel 3 Cup and, having proven to be quick in testing. will look to take the fight to the Lotus drivers.
Joining Tan is fellow BARC graduate Sam MacLeod, who will also compete in selected rounds of this years British Formula Three International Series with Fortec Motorsports. Like the Malaysian, the Scotsman raced with Fortec last season and finished sixth in the standings taking one win and five podiums. The 19-year-old is not as experienced as Tan, but has shown pace in pre-season testing to show that Van Amersfoort have got two capable drivers, who can fight at the front and ultimately for the title.
SMP Racing by ADM Motorsport
ADM Motorsport returns for another season, with the Italian team linking up with Russian bank-backed SMP Racing to run Russian duo Sergey Trofimov and Nikita Zlobin. ADM’s first full season in German F3 resulted in several strong finishes, with Italian?Matteo Cairoli ultimately taking seventh in the standings.
Trofimov makes the move to the ATS Formel 3 Cup after competing in the Italian Formula Abarth Championship last season with Euronova, where he secured the National Trophy title. If he can learn the F3 car quickly and fight for points early on, there is no reason why he can’t aim to beat some of his more experienced opponents.
Joining his countryman at ADM is Nikita Zlobin, who returns to the ATS Formel 3 Cup after taking part in select rounds last season with the Italian team, achieving a best result of eighth at Lausitz. The 18-year-old will have to use the experience that he gained, combined with a strong test program over the winter with Trofimov, to improve on his consistency and work his way to the front to be a factor in the championship.
JBR Motorsport & Engineering
After taking part in two rounds last season,?Nicolai Sylvest returns for a full-time campaign with JBR Motorsport & Engineering. Having taken out the Denmark Formula Ford title in 2012, Sylvest achieved some impressive results for a German F3 rookie in 2013, mixing it with the series regulars. For 2014, he will have to use what he learned to work his way to the front, and, while not having a teammate will hurt him, he should manage to get some solid results this year.
New to the championship this year are Amkon Motorsport, who run Maximilian Hackl?as he steps up to the main class after competing in the Trophy category last season with Franz Woss Racing. Hackl put together a consistent campaign last season, ultimately finishing fifth in his class. He will have more competition in the general standings this year and just what kind of pace the new squad is capable of still remains to be seen.
Oschersleben ? 26/27 April
Zandvoort ? 10/11 May
Lausitzring ? 24/25 May
Spielberg ? 7/8 June
Slovakia Ring ? 9/10 August
Nurburgring ? 30/31 August
Sachsenring ? 20/21 September
Hockenheimring ? 4/5 October