Formula Regional to replace F3 at MGP: FIA

2024-05-23 04:09     Comment:4

The Macau Grand Prix (MGP) will feature Formula Regional from this year onwards, replacing Formula 3, the Paris-based Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) announced in a statement yesterday. 

According to the statement, “Formula Regional cars are set to debut in the FIA’s most prestigious single-event competition in junior single-seater racing, the FIA FR World Cup, traditionally held at the renowned Guia Circuit as part of the Macau Grand Prix.”

The statement stressed that “from this year onwards, the FIA’s single-seater competition held as part of the event will be reserved for Formula Regional cars, making the event even more accessible than ever, opening it up to a broad pool of potential drivers competing at region level.”

The statement pointed out that “launched in 2018, Formula Regional bridges the gap between various national Formula 4 series and the global FIA Formula 3 Championship, which is held on the support bill of selected Formula 1 grands prix.”

The statement noted that “there are currently five different FIA-certified Formula Regional series being held around the world (Americas, European, Japanese, Middle East and Oceania) and there are approximately 92 Formula Regional drivers racing worldwide in 2024.”

In direct reference to the MGP, the statement said that “Formula Regional cars will co-headline the 71st running of the Macau Grand Prix along with GT3 machinery taking part in the FIA GT World Cup in an event [to be] held from November 14-17 at the famous 6.120-km street circuit”. 

The statement also underlined that the FIA-sanctioned races returned to Macau last year “after a three-year hiatus and following a three-way agreement between the FIA, Macau’s FIA member club, Automobile General Association Macao-China (AAMC), and the Macau Grand Prix Organising Committee.” 

‘Natural consequence, logical step’

The statement quoted François Sicard, FIA single-seater strategy & operations director, as saying that “bringing Formula Regional cars to Macau for the FIA World Cup is a natural consequence of the evolution of the junior single-seater landscape over the last couple of years and is a logical step in the pyramid. 

“Macau’s Formula 3 race has built its legendary reputation as an event that gathered the best junior racers from national series around the world at what is the world’s most challenging street circuit.

“A move to Formula Regional machinery very much revives that spirit and is an optimal long-term solution for the FIA-sanctioned single-seater competition in Macau.”

“FR” is the unofficial abbreviation of Formula Regional. 

The MGP, which got off the ground in 1954, was initially held for sportscars before switching to single-seaters in 1961 with the open Formula Libre regulations, renowned motorsport journalist Ida Wood pointed out in an online Formula Scout article yesterday about the change this year. Wood pointed out that Formula Libre was replaced by Formula Pacific cars in 1974, before starting in 1983 Formula 3 became the highlight of the MGP. 

Brazil’s Ayrton Senna and Germany’s Michael Schumacher are among the local F3 races’ most famous winners. 

Wood noted that F3 teams have competed in Macau 38 times, as from 2020 to 2022 the COVID-19 pandemic restricted travel to Macau and the Chinese mainland so that the Chinese Formula 4 championship was added to the MGP calendar for three seasons. 

In 2016, the MGP was awarded FIA F3 World Cup Status. From this year, it will host the Formula Regional World Cup. 

Wood emphasised that Macau will become the second grand prix in the international FR calendar, joining the New Zealand Grand Prix, which runs as the FR Oceania season finale. 

Wood noted that racing on street circuits is rare in FR, with the European championship having visited Monaco twice, and the all-female W Series having raced in Miami in 2019 and in Singapore in 2022. 

According to the FIA website, “Formula Regional is the second rung on the FIA’s single-seater ladder towards the top levels of racing competition. 

“Over the past decade, the FIA has made great efforts to correctly balance the steps young competitors make as they climb the racing ladder and Formula Regional provides these drivers with an exceptional environment in which to take the lessons learned in Formula 4 to find new levels of performance before accessing global series like FIA Formula 3, FIA Formula 2 and finally FIA Formula 1.

“Promoting drivers from their first steps in single-seaters in the nationally-organised Formula 4 to Formula Regional, the category sees drivers graduating to competitions in Europe, Asia, Japan and the Americas.” 

Image courtesy of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA)

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