The time of testing and tactics has come to an end - now, the cards will be on the table. With 30 drivers from 16 nations, the new Formula 3 Euro Series will be celebrating its eagerly awaited premiere at the Hockenheimring this weekend [April 26/27].

"I am happy that we are finally getting back into action," says Markus Winkelhock [Mucke Motorsport] before the start of the attractive junior racing series. With his Dallara-Mercedes, the Swabian did a great job in testing and is confident that, following his bad luck of last year, he will succeed in winning the title in his third year in Formula 3. "The Competition is very strong, but I think that my chances are quite good."

However, the list of title candidates is long. Australian Ryan Briscoe [PREMA Powerteam/Dallara-Opel], Toyota test driver in Formula 1, is one of them, just like Olivier Pla [ASM/Dallara-Mercedes]. The Frenchman, third in last year's French Formula 3-championship and winner of the F3 Grand Prix of Korea, was fastest during the first official test session of the Formula 3 Euro Series at the Adria Raceway.

His team-mate Alexandre Premat also showed a strong performance: the rookie, champion of the French Formula Renault in 2002, became quicker and quicker with his Dallara-Mercedes during the course of the test sessions and gave an impressive proof of his talent by setting fastest time during the final test before the season opener at the Hockenheimring.

At this dressrehearsal, the closeness of the competition in the Formula 3 Euro Series became clear once again: 15 drivers were separated by only one second.

According to German Timo Glock [Opel Team KMS], there are: "certainly eight, nine drivers, who are easily capable of competing for the title." The third-placed of the International German Formula 3-championship 2002 obviously is counting himself in, too: "Of course, winning the title is my goal."

Nine drivers will be on the grid as rookies during the season opener. They already proved in official testing that they can be quite a threat to the stalwarts. Next to Alexandre Premat, Austrian Christian Klien [M?cke Motorsport/ Dallara-Mercedes] also surprised in pre-season testing with a fastest time of the day at Misano/Italy, while Robert Kubica [PREMA Powerteam/Dallara-Opel] from Poland was fastest on the first day of testing at Ledenon/France.

Nico Rosberg [Team Rosberg/Dallara-Opel] also proved to be strong. The graduate from the Formula BMW ADAC is regarding his maiden Formula 3-season as a learning year. "But I hope to achieve some good results."