The right formula?

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If Brands Hatch Leisure, promoter of the British Formula 3000 Championship, gets its way, there won’t be a British F3000 Championship in 1992. This has nothing to do with the recession, nor with dwindling interest on the part of would-be competitors. It’s simply that BHL has come up with the sensible idea of rechristening the series.

We would like to extend a warm welcome to the British Formula Two Championship. Despite a slow start, in 1989, the British F3000 series has by and large been a success, and not just because it reflated the value of ex-European Championship chassis (new cars were outlawed, to keep costs down). Even in that first season, when fields barely stretched to double figures, the racing was of a high standard. Inaugural champion Gary Brabham graduated directly to F1, albeit with the cataclysmically inept Life team, an association that lasted only a few weeks. His successor, Pedro Chaves, gave a better indication of the series’ potential. After struggling to qualify for European F3000 races in 1989, Chaves dropped down to the national championship the following year. Confidence buoyed by his ability to race at the front, he returned to the European scene in mid-season and finished a strong fourth at Brands Hatch. After clinching the British title, he graduated to F1 via another back door route (Coloni). Despite a season of banging his head against the pre-qualifying wall, he was in serious negotiation for one of the few remaining F1 berths as we closed for press.

Sadly, we will never know how well 1991’s champion would have fared in Grand Prix racing. After winning the first four races, Paul Warwick was within a few laps of the chequered flag when he crashed fatally at Oulton Park in July. He was awarded the race posthumously, and those five victories were enough to assure him of the championship crown. (Ironically, the sport’s only other posthumous champion, Jochen Rindt, took the 1970 world title with an identical score — 45 points accrued from five wins.) His early season domination, particularly his searing recovery drive in round four at Brands Hatch, was evidence of a special talent.

For 1992, the British F2 Championship will retain its ban on contemporary chassis (cars must be at least one season old), reintroduced last year after a temporary lapse in 1990, and will also adopt a similar control fuel policy to that which was introduced recently in European F3000. Admirable though such costeffective measures are, the boldest, brighest initiative is without doubt the readoption of the F2 name. At least the British public may now understand what it is they are watching. The European F3000 season shows no immediate sign of catching on, more’s the pity.

Whoever wins the 1992 British F2 title will be following in famous footsteps. The last such title-holder, back in 1972, was one Niki Lauda . . .