International Formula 3000

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The Formula 3000 International Championship was a motor racing series created by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) in 1985 to become the final preparatory step for drivers hoping to enter the Formula One championship. Formula Two had become too expensive, and was dominated by works-run cars with factory engines; the hope was that Formula 3000 would offer quicker, cheaper, more open racing. The series began as an open specification, then tyres were standardized from 1986 onwards, followed by engines and chassis in 1996. The series ran annually until 2004, and was replaced in 2005 by the GP2 Series.

The series was staged as the Formula 3000 European Championship in 1985,[1] as the Formula 3000 Intercontinental Championship in 1986 [2] and 1987 [3] and then as the Formula 3000 International Championship from 1988 [4] to 2004.[5]

Contents

Engines

Formula 3000 replaced Formula Two, and was so named because the engines used initially were 3.0 L (183ci) Cosworth DFV engines made obsolete by Formula One's change in engine rules. (It has been observed Bernie Ecclestone had purchased a job-lot of DFVs in 1984, with no obvious use for them at the time).

The rules permitted any 90-degree V8 engine, fitted with a rev-limiter to keep power output under control. As well as the Cosworth, a Honda engine based on an Indy V8 by John Judd also appeared; a rumoured Lamborghini V8 never raced. In later years, a Mugen-Honda V8 became the thing to have, eclipsing the DFV; Cosworth responded with the brand new AC engine. Costs, not unlike the senior series, were getting out of control.

Chassis

The first chassis from March, AGS and Ralt were developments of their existing 1984 Formula Two designs, although Lola's entry was based on and looked very much like an IndyCar. A few smaller teams tried obsolete three-litre Formula One cars (from Tyrrell, Williams, Minardi and RAM), with little success—the Grand Prix and Indycar-derived entries were too unwieldy—their fuel tanks were about twice the size of those needed for F3000 races, and the weight distribution was not ideal. The first few years of the championship saw March establishing a superiority over Ralt and Lola—there was little to choose between the chassis, but more Marches were sold and ended up in better hands. The form book was rewritten in 1988 with the entry of the ambitious Reynard marque with a brand new chassis; Reynard had won their first race in every formula they'd entered. This would continue in F3000. The next couple of years saw Lola improve slightly—their car was arguably marginally superior to the Reynard in 1990—and March slip, but both were crushed by the Reynard teams and by the mid-90s, F3000 was a virtual Reynard monopoly, although Lola did eventually return with a promising car and the Japanese Footwork and Dome chassis were seen in Europe. Dallara briefly tried the series before moving up to Formula One, and AGS moved up from Formula Two but never recaptured their occasional success. At least one unraced F3000 chassis existed—the Wagner fitted with a straight-six short-stroke BMW. This was converted into a sports car, however.

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