In 2012, the Formula 3 Euro Series is entering its tenth season. The foundation for the world’s toughest junior racing series was laid in Paris on January 22nd, 2003, when the Deutscher Motor Sport Bund e.V. (DMSB) and the Fédération Française du Sport Automobile (FFSA) provided the final facilities to enable the most significant merger in single-seater racing worldwide: the new Formula 3 Euro Series was born.
It was not just the international motorsport fraternity that watched this co-operation with great interest. Numerous politicians also followed the birth of the new racing series. Otto Schily, at the time Germany’s Home Secretary and Federal Minister of Sports, hailed the series as an example for sporting events reaching beyond national borders, said Schily, whilst also emphasising the significance of the new series for promoting young talents: The amalgamation of the two national championships will represent another boost for the development of young up-and-coming racing drivers.”
The comment of the French Minister of Sport at the time, Jean-François Lamour, was similar. He acknowledged the commitment of DMSB and FFSA and predicted the Formula 3 Euro Series to provide top class motorsport and to be a championship, in which young talented drivers will have the chance to hone their skills.”
On April 26th, 2003, the Formula 3 Euro Series kicked off its inaugural season at the Hockenheimring. Australian Ryan Briscoe became the maiden Formula 3 Euro Series champion, Austrian Christian Klien became runner-up. Both drivers succeeded in stepping up into Formula 1. Toyota signed Ryan Brisoe as its test driver. Jaguar took Klien on board as its regular Grand Prix driver to partner Mark Webber for the 2004 Formula 1 season. In the second season of the Formula 3 Euro Series, the title went to Great Britain: Jamie Green wrapped up the championship. His career path led to the DTM, having been signed by Mercedes-Benz to become a works-driver in the most popular international touring car series following his Formula 3 championship title. Nico Rosberg, the son of former F1 world champion Keke Rosberg, became the inaugural champion of the GP2 Series in 2005. From 2006 till 2009, he was one of the Williams F1 team’s regular drivers and since 2010, he has been Michael Schumacher’s team-mate at Mercedes GP.
Another Briton came out on top in 2005: with 15 victories from 20 races, Lewis Hamilton became the 2005 Formula 3 Euro Series’ champion. In the following year, he went on to win the GP2 Series title. Since 2007, he has been racing in the Formula 1 World Championship with the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team and became world champion in 2008. Runner-up Adrian Sutil has been a Formula 1 regular from 2007 till 2011.
The 2006 champion came from Scotland: Paul Di Resta won the Formula 3 Euro Series title and was signed by Mercedes-Benz for the 2007 DTM season as a reward. Following a successful rookie season, he stepped up to become runner-up in 2008 and won the title in 2010. After that, he got a Formula 1 drive with Force India for 2011 and this season. The 2006 runner-up, German Sebastian Vettel, raced in Formula 1 for the Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2007 and 2008. Since 2009, he has been competing for Red Bull Racing and became world champion twice in 2010 and 2011.
Based in the Swiss city of Geneva, Romain Grosjean claimed the 2007 Formula 3 Euro Series title. He won six races and had a long-time battle with Swiss Sébastien Buemi and German Nico Hülkenberg, the latter managing to win four races with an ever-stronger performance in the second half of the season after a rather difficult start of his campaign. Grosjean and Buemi graduated into the GP2 Series, Buemi has been the regular driver of the Toro Rosso F1 team from 2009 till last season. Grosjean worked hard for his cockpit as a regular driver with the Lotus F1 Team.
Hülkenberg opted for another season in the Euro Series and clinched the title in 2008, winning seven races. In 2009, Hülkenberg combined his duties as a test driver for the Williams F1 team with a campaign in GP2. There, he again faced Euro Series runner-up Edoardo Mortara, who also graduated into GP2. At Pau, the Italian had become the first driver to score a race win with a Volkswagen engine in the history of the Formula 3 Euro Series. Third overall, Jules Bianchi was the best-placed rookie in the drivers standings of the world’s toughest junior race series. Hülkenberg was a regular Formula 1 race driver at Williams in 2010 and will be a regular F1 driver at Force India in 2012.
Talking about Bianchi: Mortara and Hülkenberg having moved up the ladder, the Frenchman almost automatically became the favourite for the 2009 Euro Series title. And he lived up to the expectations. Following a rather poor start of the season at Hockenheim, Bianchi really picked up momentum. On each of the following five race weekends, he won the first of the two races. At the end of the season, he had a grand total of nine race wins. His margin of 114 to 75 points over runner-up Christian Vietoris in the final drivers standings was clear. For Bianchi, too, this title was the stepping stone into the GP2 Series. Vietoris captured a Mercedes-Benz cockpit in the DTM in 2011.
In 2010, the Formula 3 Euro Series saw a major change regarding the sporting results. The winning streak of Mercedes-Benz as an engine supplier and ART Grand Prix as the title-winning team that had lasted since 2004 came to an end. Thanks to returnee Edoardo Mortara, Volkswagen and the French Signature team managed to achieve the turnaround. The Italian won seven out of 18 races and won the title with a clear margin over his German team-mate Marco Wittmann. As a reward, Mortara was given a DTM cockpit with Audi for 2011 and 2012.
Kumho’s new tyres gave all teams and drivers a hard time at the beginning of the 2011 season. From the first race on the Prema Powerteam and its drivers Roberto Merhi and Daniel Juncadella were dominating the field. Only Marco Wittmann was able to compete with the strong Mercedes-Benz drivers from Spain. After changing the amount of races per event from two to three in the 2011 Sporting Regulations and after adapting the points scheme to F1 standards Merhi was able to win the Formula 3 Euro Series title with an advantage of 121 points in front of second placed Wittmann.
In 2012 both drivers stepped up to the DTM: Norbert Hauk engaged Merhi as a regular DTM driver at Mercedes-Benz and Wittmann assured the job as BMW test and young driver.