Undeterred by the global economic situation and the emergence of F2, Formula Master and others into a crowded international motorsport market, the brains behind the successful GP2 Series have taken the wraps off the first major details of its junior GP3 initiative.
After months of preparation, the design and development of the GP3 car remain on schedule at Dallara, which was retained as chassis builder after four years of success with GP2, while Renault also continues its relationship with the organisers in order to provide a 280hp two-litre turbo-charged powerplant. The biggest surprise is the inclusion of Pirelli as tyre supplier to the series instead of Bridgestone, which carries its F1 programme down through GP2.
"We based the GP3 Series on the GP2 Series successful philosophy: produce a competitive car, create a cost effective series, racing alongside the Formula One calendar and providing an exciting show," series organiser Bruno Michel said, "I am really pleased to welcome our partners to the GP3 Series and I am confident that together we will be able to achieve the same level of high quality competition that we reached in GP2 for the past four seasons.
"I am very happy to see Dallara and Renault involved in this project, as our successful partnership developed in GP2 will carry through GP3. As for Pirelli, it is a great pleasure to welcome them on board and see their return to the high-level of competition."
Once a Formula One regular, and latterly involved in rallying, Pirelli's inclusion marks the return of the Italian brand to the grand prix scene.
"Pirelli are delighted to be involved with the launch of the GP3 Series, which represents a re-entry for us into the world of open-wheeled racing," motorsport director Paul Hembery commented, "Working with premium teams and the future champions of the motorsport world is an exciting challenge, and one where we will be putting our 100 year-plus competition experience to use in providing a reliable and stable product for use in the varied circuits and conditions we will face during the season."
"The goal of the GP3 Series is to create a championship that develops young drivers' skills for the next step: the GP2 Series," Didier Perrin, technical director for both series, commented, "Keeping this in mind, we designed a car that features all the needed technological aspects, including a paddle shift and two pedals. We also carefully thought about the balance between power and downforce in order to make the driving of this car the best learning tool before driving a GP2 car. The development and setting up of the car and tyres will be an ongoing process through 2009."
Michel went on to confirm that the first run for the all-new GP3 car would be scheduled for the beginning of the summer, but emphasised that there were still major steps to be taken with the series before it would hit the track in anger.
"Production will start in the autumn, while the cars will be delivered to the chosen teams around February/March 2010," he explained, "The next important step will be the entry selection process. It will start next September and will be opened to all teams wishing to enrol in the GP3 Series and that proved to be most successful in their categories. The first test session will take place in March 2010 and the championship will kick off at the first European race of the Formula One season."
GP3 technical features
Monocoque and Bodywork
Survival cell - Sandwich Carbon/aluminium honeycomb structure designed by Dallara.
Front and rear wings - Carbon structures designed by Dallara.
Bodywork - Carbon - Kevlar - Glass composite structures designed by Dallara.
FIA F1 2006 safety standards
Front side rear and steering column impact tests.
Front and rear roll hoops, impact structures and monocoque push tests.
Wheel retainer safety cables.
Front and rear double steel wishbones, pushrod operated, twin dampers, helicoidally spring
Adjustable ride height, camber and toe.
Two way front and rear adjustable Koni dampers.
Front and rear adjustable anti-roll bar.
Engine development achieved by Renault F1.
Renault 4 cylinder 2 litres turbo charged 280 HP @ 6500 rpm.
Fly by wire throttle system.
One rebuilt per year only.
Six-speed longitudinal sequential Hewland gearbox.
Electro-hydraulic command via paddle shift from steering wheel.
Pure two pedals car - clutch paddle on steering wheel.
On board starter.
Hewland ramp differential.
Wheels and Tyres
OZ racing wheels
GP3 series specific Pirelli slick tyres
Non-assisted rack and pinion steering system.
XAP carbon steering wheel with dashboard, marshalling display, gear change and clutch paddles.
Four-piston monobloc Brembo callipers.
Brembo steel brake discs 280x18.
Magneti Marelli Marvel 8 ECU/GCU including data logging system.
XAP power supply management unit.
F1 Marshalling system pre-equipment.
New generation roll hoop, nose cone and face shot camera pre-equipment.