The most successful F3 team in Europe is to go head-to-head with its Cooper Tires British F3 International Series counterparts on two separate occasions in the second half of the 2009 season, after ART Grand Prix revealed that it would enter its four-car line-up at both Spa-Francorchamps and Portimao.
The French team, winner of the F3 Euroseries for the past six seasons, is to field a full-strength squad at Spa for the British Championship double-header over 24-25 July, and will also tackle September's races on the Algarve with the Mercedes-powered quartet of Esteban Gutierrez, 2009 F3 Masters champion Valtteri Bottas and the French pairing of Jules Bianchi and Adrien Tambay.
Despite being unable to retain his 2008 Masters crown, pre-season favourite Bianchi currently leads the Euroseries points thanks to race victories at Lausitz and Norisring, while both Bottas and Gutierrez are in the overall top twelve.
"We are delighted that a team with such an F3 pedigree will be joining the series at Spa," admitted championship co-ordinator Fiona Pawley, "It will be fascinating to see how they get on against the cream of the British teams - and we very much hope that some of the other Euroseries teams will take advantage of the gap in their calendar and also come to join the Cooper Tires series."
Despite its French roots, ART has established a long and successful connection with UK motorsport, having won consecutive Euroseries titles with British drivers Jamie Green, Lewis Hamilton and Paul di Resta between 2004-06.
"Spa-Francorchamps and Algarve are two beautiful circuits and it will be very profitable for our drivers to race there, as they will most likely have to race there in the near future," team CEO Frederic Vasseur reasoned, "It is also a good occasion for ART Grand Prix to race against the British teams, in a different environment and where we will have to learn and handle new technical parameters. This experience will widen our knowledge and skills package, which means this project is positive all round for ART Grand Prix and their drivers."