An international Formula Three Championship sponsored by Motor Sport/Shell

£1,000 for 12-race series

OF THE three major International racing formula, one has been sadly neglected when it comes to allotting Championships. The exception is Formula Three, the most junior of the three professional formulae, yet the one which has possibly proved the most entertaining over the five years of its existence.

MOTOR SPORT is pleased to announce that it will sponsor the first Championship for Formula Three to be organised in recent years on an International scale, and that in conjunction with Shell there will he a total prize fund of £1,000 available. This generous sum will make it worth the competitors’ while to have the MOTOR SPORT/Shell Championship as their prime objective in a busy season.

The decision to go ahead with the project is based on two considerations: to create for Formula Three a Trophy which will give prestige and a prize fund which will help the winning driver and runner-up to prepare for the next season’s racing.

As a Formula which provides a selection of races in virtually every European country, it would he inappropriate to restrict the Championship to British or Commonwealth drivers. The more important races invariably attract the same “circus” of drivers, among whom there are no strong national divisions. As an example, during 1969 one of the most frequent winners was a Swedish driver in a British works-backed car using an Italian-tuned Ford engine. So the MOTOR SPORT/Shell Champion will be the man who does best in the 12 races chosen for the series. It has been decided to concentrate in the main on International F3 races in Britain, but the series will also include one foreign round, that at Monaco which is generally recognised as the most significant F3 event of the year.

Formula Three in 1969

The past season of F3 has been one of intense interest and excitement. Dominating the results are the names of three young men, two Swedes and a London-based Australian, whose careers are poised for yet greater things in 1970. All three of them had works support in one form or another and they were very closely matched, although they drove different makes of car. On results, it was Ronnie Peterson, a 27-year-old Swede in an Italian Tecno, who came out best. He did not race in Britain as frequently as the other pair, but he did win the Monaco race, after much speculation as to who was the better Swede. His close rival and friend Reine Wisell was the man who was narrowly beaten on that occasion and Wisell is the Swede who became well known to British crowds as the driver of the works Chevron. Offering Wisell the strongest possible challenge, and beating him on occasion, was 25-year-old Australian Tim Schenken, the 1968 top Grovewood Award winner. Schenken set a pattern by moving up from the British National Formula Ford, of which he had proved the most successful exponent in its first full year of existence.

Formula Ford has taken over the role which was previously worn— rather hesitantly—by Formula Three as a training ground for young drivers. Many of the impecunious youngsters in ill-prepared F3 cars who in past years trailed around near the back of the field are now to be seen driving Formula Fords, and the status of F3 has risen as a result. It is now a real step-up to move into Formula Three and the image of the rating has improved in consequence.

Making the move from FF half-way through the season was 23-year-old Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi. He made an immediate impact on F3 with a new Lotus and proved to he the equal of the others, although for one reason or another he did not have a chance to tackle them more than once; and he has yet to finish a race in Peterson’s company.

Prospects for 1970

Of the four competitors already mentioned, only Fittipaldi and Schenken are likely to be seen again in Formula Three, and then only occasionally, for like the other two they have been offered drives in Formula Two. There are numerous rising talents which may come to the fore in the new season, among them 1969 Grovewood winners James Hunt and Tony Trimmer. Mike Beuttler and Peter Hanson were always well up in 1969 and should be even more competitive in 1970, while right at the end of the year there were some promising performances by Dick Scott and Andy Sutcliffe. Another successful graduate from Formula Ford could be Dick Barker and there are others whose plans have yet to be announced, including former kartist Bev Bond and New Zealander Howden Ganley, both of whom put in some strong challenges during the 1969 season.

MOTOR SPORT confidently believes that the institution of this new Championship will make Formula Three even more thrilling to watch: we will be keeping readers informed of the progress of the Championship throughout the year.

The cars

The F3 scene is one of intense rivalry between a number of manufacturers, both in Britain and on the Continent. As in Formulae One and Two there is a certain amount of uniformity in overall configuration as a result of the virtually universal use of Ford engines, Hewland gearboxes and even (in the case of F3) of Firestone tyres. Nevertheless, there are significant differences in body shape which make the cars reasonably easy to spot. Under the skin they are not so similar, for although no monocoque F3 cars remain in current large-scale production, there are several different approaches to tubular frame design. The Lotus 59, for instance, is constructed from square-section tubes, which facilitate construction in the factory, while the Brabham BTU is still manufactured from round-section tubes. The Chevron B15 and its reinforced semi-monocoque centre section were fully described in the November issue of Motor Sport, while yet another variation on the theme is offered by the Italian Tecno, which has proved particularly popular and successful on the Continent. Its chassis is rather more straightforward than the British designs, but equally rigid, and its wheelbase is significantly shorter, making it highly responsive and easy to throw around.

Between them, the above four makes of chassis have had considerable success, but they are by no means monopolising the results sheets. In France the four-year-old monocoque Matra is still raced competitively and the works Alpines (which are unusual in having Renault engines) have shown speed on occasion, although it is understood that they will not be seen in 1970. In Germany an American called McNamara started a racing car factory which has produced an attractive and up-to-date design called the Sebring Mk. 3, while in Italy there are several small companies producing specials (the De Sanctis, for instance) which are rarely seen outside their home boundaries. Britain is well represented in addition by several other manufacturers whose main preoccupation is with Formula Ford cars which have been adapted to a Formula Three configuration. Among them are Merlyn and Alexis, while the Titan has had some satisfactory results in the hands of Charles Lucas, who was responsible for starting the company which not only builds the cars but also tunes some of the most powerful engines.

The engines

The present Formula Three rules, which are entering their last year, require the use of the cylinder block and head “deriving from an FIA recognised model of car manufactured in a quantity of at least 1,000 units in 12 consecutive months, excluding all engines with overhead camshafts”. Maximum capacity may not exceed 1,000 c.c.

For all practical purposes this means that the Ford engine derived from the 105E Anglia is universal, this unit having the advantage of being modified in its early stages for racing by Cosworth Engineering The Cosworth-designed crankshaft is virtually universal, and although other concerns have experimented with five-bearing crankshafts, it is the three-bearing shaft which has proved best. The first Cosworth engine (known as the MAE, or Modified Anglia Engine) was fitted with special racing pistons and con-rods, and the carburetter used was a Stromberg. The rules require a 36 mm. restrictor to be placed in the inlet manifold, the original intention being that this should keep engine revs to a “reasonable” limit, but whoever framed that passage of the PTA’s Appendix J apparently had little engineering knowledge, for the 36 mm. orifice is quite big enough to enable engine speeds of as much as 11,000 r.p.m. to be used. Development of the basic Cosworth unit has been continued by concerns such as Lucas Engineering, Felday Engineering and the Italian Novamotor factory. They have all followed the lead set by Holbay Engineering (which has built Ford engines of exclusively Holbay design) with downdraught manifolds. The process of downdraughting involves blanking off the inlet holes in the side of the normal Ford cylinder head and boring fresh intake ducts into the roof of the combustion chamber, improving the gas flow of the engine and increasing power outputs to as much as 125 b.h.p.

This sort of power is ideal for a training formula, although the cornering power of modern wide racing tyres confers an almost uncanny road-holding ability on the little cars. The drivers often complain that speeds are so high as a result that slipstreaming techniques are required on the majority of circuits and that the highly skilled can “tow” round the less able brethren. This nevertheless provides considerable entertainment, as anyone who saw the F3 race at the British Grand Prix will readily recall.—M. G. D.

Championship rules

1. Entry is open to persons of any nationality taking part in qualifying rounds. It will not be necessary to submit a formal application to be eligible.

2. Points will be awarded in accordance with the official results as decided and confirmed by the organising clubs. The points scale is as used for the World Championship of drivers, 9 points being awarded for first place, 6 for second, 4 for third, 3 for fourth, 2 for fifth and 1 for sixth. In the event of fewer than six cars completing the distance or failing to qualify in accordance with the organiser’s regulations the points will not be awarded. 3. The following 12 races have been selected to be qualifying rounds of the Championship.

3.In the event of a qualifying round being cancelled or postponed the organisers of the Championship reserve the right to substitute another event and to make alterations to the above list of races as they find appropriate.

4. Prize money will be awarded as follows : to the winner, £300 and a Trophy; to the second-placed man, £75; to the third-placed man, £25. In addition, there will be £600 divided between competitors according to the points scored in each round. The scale will be £2 per point. All prizes will be paid at the completion of the Championship rounds.

5. Competitors will be asked to carry a decal, to be supplied by the organisers, on the bodywork of their cars, but this will not be a mandatory regulation. By taking part in qualifying rounds the competitors will be deemed to have read and to be hi agreement with the above rules. In the event of any dispute, the decision of the Editor of MOTOR SPORT and a representative of Shell will be regarded as final. All correspondence in connection with the Championship should be addressed to ‘T3 Championship”, ?silo-rot< SPORT, Standard House, Bonhill Street, London, EC2.