Volkswagen in Formula 3 Will Volkswagen find the next "Schumi"? Wolfsburg (28 August 2009). Last weekend (22 August) 18-year-old Laurens Vanthoor secured the title in the ATS Formula 3 Cup as early as four races before the finale of the ...
Volkswagen in Formula 3
Will Volkswagen find the next "Schumi"?
Wolfsburg (28 August 2009). Last weekend (22 August) 18-year-old Laurens Vanthoor secured the title in the ATS Formula 3 Cup as early as four races before the finale of the championship. The personable Belgian thus continues Volkswagen's proud success story in German Formula 3. His predecessors include today's Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen, DTM record champion Bernd Schneider as well as seven-time Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher and Tom Kristensen, who -- with eight exploits under his belt -- is the record winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. By now, Formula 3 has not only made a name for itself as a junior racing class but is considered a stepping stone for the international cockpits of the DTM and Formula 1. Whether Lewis Hamilton, Robert Kubica, Nico Rosberg or Sebastian Vettel -- they all went through the tough school of Formula 3 in their careers. The racing cars which tip the scales at merely 540 kg are powered by 2-litre 210-hp engines and, thanks to highly competitive fields of contenders, provide spectacular racing and fertile soil for future careers.
How Lauda, Rosberg and company ascended to Formula 1 with Volkswagen
Volkswagen's beginnings in Formula racing date as far back as to 1966. TV at that time was still black and white and the German footballers were defeated in the World Championship finale at Wembley. "Formula V" - the "V" stood for Volkswagen - made it possible for young racers to enter motorsport at affordable costs. The former chairman of the Volkswagen executive board, Dr. Carl H. Hahn, and the legendary Huschke von Hanstein discovered the potential of this class at a very early stage and got this racing series off the ground. At times, over 2,500 vehicles were running worldwide. For over 20 years, the series offered an important springboard for successful careers in motorsport. At the age of 15, Niki Lauda did his first tests in a Beetle convertible but managed the leap into motor racing only four years later in a Formula V car. The three-time Formula 1 world champion is thus one of many top-calibre drivers who made it to the top from Formula V. Countless renowned racers such as Formula 1 world champions Jochen Rindt, Keke Rosberg and Nelson Piquet, the two-time Indy 500 winners Arie Luyendyk and Al Unser jr. as well as John Nielsen, Jochen Mass or Michael Andretti emerged from the various national and international Formula V series. Later, Formula Konig powered by Volkswagen and Formula Volkswagen continued the monoposto tradition.
With Volkswagen to Le Mans and Indianapolis
For over 40 years, Volkswagen has been supporting young drivers in Formula racing on their way to the top. Formula 1 world champions, Le Mans winners and DTM champions acquired their racing skills "powered by Volkswagen". The fact that after the brand's withdrawal in 1992 the first title was clinched as early as in the second year after its return fills Motorsport Director Kris Nissen with particular pride: "Promotion of young talent has a long tradition with Volkswagen," says the former Formula 3 champion who is now in charge of Volkswagen Motorsport. "That's where we wanted to continue at the time of our return to Formula 3 in 2007. We aim to discover the best talents early on in order to have the opportunity to promote them accordingly and to familiarise them with top-calibre motorsport. In Laurens Vanthoor we've got one of the most promising youngsters among our ranks, who - by winning the Formula 3 Championship - made a major step in his young career."
Power for records: the Volkswagen era in Formula 3
Formula 3 has been an important element of Volkswagen's motorsport commitment since the end of the 1970s. Up to 1991, seven drivers won the title in the German Formula 3 Championship with Volkswagen. They include John Nielsen (1982), Volker Wiedler (1985), Kris Nissen (1986), Bernd Schneider (1987), Joachim Winkelhock (1988), Michael Schumacher (1990) and Tom Kristensen (1991). Volkswagen drivers clinched a total of 92 victories and 96 pole positions, and set 94 fastest race laps in the German championship. But the brand from Wolfsburg sets standards on an international scale as well: In addition to the most recent racing exploits in the Formula 3 Euro Series, Volkswagen drivers worldwide secured a total of 56 titles as well as countless victories.
Talent promotion today: from Polo Cup to Porsche champion
Besides Formula 3 - which has been the talent incubator per se for top-calibre racing - Volkswagen offers optimum perspectives to genuine rookies as well. The ADAC Volkswagen Polo Cup, which has been the DTM's partner series for years, provides young male and female drivers with the opportunity of favourably priced entry into professional touring car racing at a high sporting level, and with great success at that: Former champions like Rene Rast, the current champion of the Porsche Carrera Cup, Jimmy Johansson or Peter Terting have long climbed the next rungs on their career ladders in sportscar and touring car racing. The ADAC Formula Masters "powered by Volkswagen" is positioned as the stage before Formula 3. With its 145-hp engines installed in a standardised chassis, Volkswagen has achieved an ideal transition from kart into genuine motor racing. The ADAC Formula Masters thus follows the proud tradition of Formula V in the 1960s and 1970s. Now it remains to be seen which drivers will manage the leap all the way to the top from these classes.