Stefano Domenicali says FIA's tightening of rules and regulations is the sole contributor to the smaller European Formula 3 grid in 2016 but has extended the deadline for entries until 29th February.

With the original deadline passing at midnight on the 15th February (last Monday) the FIA has extended the opportunity for late applicants until the end of the month (29th February) to give teams a chance to add to the grid.

Currently, there are 24 cars confirmed between seven teams - Prema, Carlin, Van Amersfoort, Mucke, Motopark, HitechGP and Threebond with T-Sport - and despite the drop in numbers Domenicali, President of the FIA's single seater commission, is confident the quality in the series has increased.

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"It did not make any sense for us to move the entry deadline forward two weeks when we are starting the season at virtually the same time as last year," Domenicali, former Ferrari F1 team principal, said. "There are some teams that have indicated to us that they need some more time to put their deals together - and we wanted to give them every opportunity to do so."

For 2016, the FIA has banned any driver from returning to Euro F3 who has competed in the series for three or more years, limited the maximum number of cars per team to four and produced tight technical regulations which Domenicali feels has had the desired effect.

"It is a tough marketplace at this level of junior formulae, and it looks like we've got a pretty high standard so far - hopefully we can add some more before the deadline," he said. "We've done a lot of work to make sure this championship is very competitive - such as excluding experienced drivers with three years of Formula 3 experience (which meant we lost some drivers), limiting the number of cars for each team, toughening up the technical regulations, as well as working on reducing costs."

Final entries will be accepted by the FIA until the 29th February, just days before the final pre-season test at Vallelunga on the 3-4 March. The EURO F3 season gets underway as a support class to the World Touring Car Championship at Circuit Paul Ricard on the 1-3 April.