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F3 Cup called off for this year, but planning a 2023 return

by Ida Wood

Photo: F3 Cup

Britain’s long-lived Formula 3 Cup has been called off for 2022, marking the first time it hasn’t run since starting in 1986. However it plans to be back next year with a revised look

The F3 Cup started off life as the Toyota F3 championship, created by Tony Broster and Marcus Pye for Toyota-engined F3 cars before evolving into ARP F3 for 1990.

It ran under that name until 2006 when a full takeover by the BRSCC took place and it more rigidly became a club series rather than the country’s secondary national F3 championship as in the original Toyota era (when the Toyota Novamotor engine was the power unit of choice in top-level F3 in Britain). It had been fiercely contested until the change, although the series almost hit a break point in 2004 with a number of controversies.

A startline incident at Mallory Park, another instance of driving standards and swearing near a podium at another competitor were used in a case against that year’s dominant champion James Winslow to kick him out of ARP F3 and therefore strip him of his title for breaking the racing club’s Code of Conduct. This was a decision made prior to the final round, which he still raced in, causing even more commotion in the series. Club membership fees had hiked that year too.

After the BRSCC, the series was saved by MotorSport Vision Racing in 2011 and renamed F3 Cup, but without championship status. Aaron Steele was chosen as ‘champion’ as he “was judged the most meritorious driver” across the year’s rounds.

Once fully restored as a championship in 2012 it relived some of its past glory, being the launchpad for the career of 2014 champion Toby Sowery, who was racing in Indy Lights in 2021, and his rival Louis Hamilton-Smith who has worked as an engineer for Toyota, Red Bull, Manor and Renault in Formula 1. The 2020 runner-up Alex Fores raced in GB3 last year.

W Series race-winner Alice Powell was 2013 title runner-up, and due to the series’ use of previous-generation cars that were still FIA homologated, international stars used F3 Cup appearances to make themselves eligible for the Macau Grand Prix.

Carlos Sainz

Photo: GEPA/Dutch Photo Agency / Sebastiaan Rozendaal

Carlin’s Antonio Felix da Costa obliterated the field, including Double R Racing’s Kevin Korjus, to win both races of the 2012 Snetterton season finale, then a year later was pipped to victory by team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr while Esteban Ocon was half a minute back in third for Lanan Racing. Da Costa retired on the opening lap of race two, and Sainz won by 32.707 seconds.

In 2015 Akash Nandy dominated at Spa-Francorchamps, and went on to race in GP3 the next year, while Zachary Claman DeMelo did several rounds and was a frequent winner before heading straight to Indy Lights.

The series was shrinking into some irrelevance again for young drivers before BRDC British Formula 4 took on the F3 name in 2016, and grid sizes dwindled with team bosses Chris Dittmann (Chris Dittmann Racing) and Hywel Lloyd (CF Racing) both taking to the driver’s seat more often in cars they ran.

There was a pipeline for both though, as CDR went on to establish itself as a top team in BRDC British F3 (now known as GB3 after the FIA killed off F3 as a modern-day category) and CF Racing raced in Euroformula in 2019 and wants to return.

At the start of last year, the Monoposto Racing Club took on the management of the championship and made exciting additions with the inclusion of the high-speed Castle Combe circuit in the calendar and an opening up of the regulations to allow teams to choose their tyre supplier. By the end of its first season in charge though it was having to deny press speculation that the 2022 season was already off, and so it released a provisional calendar for this year.

However less than two months later it has now been confirmed to Formula Scout that the F3 Cup will not take place. A statement from the F3 Cup read:

Following recent declining entries and protracted discussions on the composition of the championship, a decision has been made to suspend the F3 Cup Championship for the 2022 season to enable a revised structure, more aligned to the original club championship principles and more desirable to a wider range of competitors to be developed for 2023.

MSV seems to have found market space for previous-generation Formula 4 with its new GB4 series for 2022, and Monoposto can hopefully do the same with F3 and continue to make it appeal to a broad variety of competitors. In addition to the F3 Cup’s planned 2023 return, when it may not be open to 2019-spec Euroformula cars, the club has its own open formula championship which caters to F3 cars with pushrod suspension from the 1990s onwards running this year, and the Historic Sports Car Club runs the Classic F3 championship for cars built from 1971 to 1984 and which has proven to be a popular learning ground for young drivers who have taken to it. Let’s hope we can still see some of the most iconic junior single-seater cars continue to race, before F3 dies out as a category of the past as well as a category of the present.

Toyota/ARP/BRSCC/Club/F3 Cup champions
Year Driver Team
1986 Steve Bradley
1987 Tony Broster
1988 Steve Bradley
1989 Mark Bailey Mark Bailey Racing
1990 Ian Jacobs
1991 Steve Bottoms
1992 Paul Quinn
1993 Jeff Gresswell
1994 Dave Karaskas
1995 Simon Tate
1996 Gareth Burnett
1997 John Loebell
1998 Daron Bland
1999 Jess Gresswell
2000 Chris Marshall
2001 Luke Steven
2002 Steve Allen
2003 Richard Marsh Mark Bailey Racing
2004 Richard Marsh Mark Bailey Racing
2005 Keith Baldwin
2006 Shane Kelly
2007 Chris Needham
2008 Edwin Jowsey
2009 Chris Needham
2010 Chris Needham
2011 Aaron Steele*
2012 Chris Dittmann Chris Dittmann Racing
2013 Alex Craven Lanan Racing
2014 Toby Sowery Lanan Racing
2015 Aaron Steele Grays Motorsport
2016 George Line CF Racing
2017 Jacopo Sebastiani CF Racing
2018 Cian Carey Chris Dittmann Racing
2019 Cian Carey Chris Dittmann Racing
2020 Stefano Leaney CF Racing
2021 Stefano Leaney CF Racing