Following the highlight within the scope of the Nurburgring 24-Hour Race, the two rounds at Oschersleben, held as partner races of the FIA GT Championship, represented the second highlight of the 2009 ATS Formula 3 Cup season. There, the series...
Following the highlight within the scope of the Nurburgring 24-Hour Race, the two rounds at Oschersleben, held as partner races of the FIA GT Championship, represented the second highlight of the 2009 ATS Formula 3 Cup season. There, the series met numerous old acquaintances - such as Michael Bartels, the current GT1 Championship leader.
Bartels contested the 1988 and 1989 International German Formula 3 Championship seasons, with his second Formula 3 season having been particularly thrilling. "That year truly was all haywire," recalls the German. "The battle for the title proved to be a hard fight between Michael Schumacher, Karl Wendlinger, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and me. Unfortunately, I had to settle for finishing fourth, in the end." Nonetheless, or maybe just because of that, Bartels thinks that his Formula 3 years were extremely educational.
This could be the reason why he keeps an eye on the ATS Formula 3 Cup. "When the young Swiss girl racer Rahel Frey won the race I said to myself: 'Wow, that's great. Maybe she is a driver for us'," praises the 40-year old. "But to be honest, I have to admit that all these young guys and girls want to make it to Formula 1. Consequently, they currently aren't particularly interested in sports-car racing." For the Monaco resident, however, this isn't a reason to not make a mental note of some of them. "Who knows? Some of them won't make it to Formula 1 could become successful sports-car racers."
Such as Austria's Karl Wendlinger. He won the aforementioned battle for the title, in 1989, and advanced to Formula 1. Today he races a Saleen S7 for the team ?K plus K Motorsport? that is supported by the engineering know-how of the Formula 3 squad Swiss Racing. Wendlinger succeeded in winning the season opener but since then, he failed to add more points to his tally. At Oschersleben, a broken suspension suffered in the closing stages of the race forced him into retirement.
Michael Bartel's Team Vitaphone Racing team-mate Alex Muller also learned his trade in Formula 3. In his first F3 season, in 1997, he secured four race wins and finished third in the championship. In 2000, the German returned for a second season and this time, he finished runner-up. Meanwhile, Stefan Mucke is the youngest former Formula 3 driver on the FIA GT grid. The German mainly competes in the Le Mans Series but also contests selected FIA GT2 rounds. In the wet Oschersleben race on Sunday, the Berliner finished third. And he will be one of the sports-car drivers the ATS Formula 3 Cup young guns will meet again in August, in the Eifel region. Then, the fastest German single-seater series will race at the Nurburgring in the support programme of the 1000-kilometre Race.