The burgeoning Spanish F3 series is set to take on a fresh new appearance in 2009, with a new moniker and a calendar expanded to take in more than the occasional cross-border foray.
The championship, which has begun to attract interest from those unable to raise the budget for either British or Euroseries campaigns, looks likely to be renamed as the European F3 Open Series as it increases its footprint to include races in Britain, Italy, Belgium and France, as well as Spain.
The 2008 Spanish F3 calendar included 'overseas' rounds at Spa-Francorchamps and Magny-Cours alongside seven nationally-based rounds, but the provisional 2009 schedule includes visits to Imola, which is set to open the campaign in mid-April, and Donington Park alongside return visits to the Belgian and French venues. The grand prix venues at Barcelona, Jarama and Jerez remain on the calendar, as do both of Valencia's circuits - the permanent Circuit Ricardo Tormo at Cheste and the new F1 layout at the America's Cup port - while the provincial facilities at Albacete is dropped.
In line with the schedule expansion and re-branding, Crash.net
understands that a TV deal, which will see all 18 races shown live on satellite channel Motors TV
is close to being unveiled.
"2009 looks like being a fantastic year," Team West-Tec F3 prime-mover John Miller told us, "[Championship organiser GT Sport's] Jesus [Pareja] has been working towards this for a couple of years and this is part of what attracted us so much to Spain.
"Racing at tracks like these, almost all of which are current GP2 and F1 test tracks, you can see why the Spanish series actually has the best record of any F3 championship for graduating drivers to GP2 and World Series by Renault.
"I think considering re-branding the championship as the European F3 Open Series will bring it onto more people's radars for the tremendous value it offers, and the extended TV coverage to more geographical areas will also be a bonus."
The full provisional calendar for the inaugural European F3 Open Series is as follows:
April 18-19 Imola
May 2-3 Valencia (Cheste)
June 6-7 Jarama
June 27-28 Spa-Francorchamps
July 4-5 Donington Park
August 29-30 Valencia (Port circuit)
September 19-20 Magny-Cours
October 9-10 Jerez
October 24-25 Barcelona