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FIA F3 Monaco

F3 drivers unimpressed by controversial Macau GP Formula Regional switch

Gabrielle Mini has led criticisms of the recently announced Macau Grand Prix change from Formula 3 to lesser Formula Regional machinery.

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F3 cars became the headline act of the Macau Grand Prix weekend in 1983, replacing the Formula Pacific cars that had contested the event since 1974 and, in 2016, the competition was awarded FIA F3 World Cup status.

But on Wednesday, the FIA revealed that this would become the Formula Regional World Cup from November onwards, switching to the less powerful machinery that is used in regional competitions around the world and acts as a stepping stone between F4 and F3.

Announcing the change, FIA single-seater strategy and operations director Francois Sicard said: “Bringing Formula Regional cars to Macau for the FIA World Cup is a natural consequence of the evolution of the junior single-seater landscape over the last couple of years and is a logical step in the pyramid. 

“Macau’s Formula 3 race has built its legendary reputation as an event that gathered the best junior racers from national series around the world at what is the world’s most challenging street circuit.

“A move to Formula Regional machinery very much revives that spirit and is an optimal long-term solution for the FIA-sanctioned single-seater competition in Macau.”

Macau has previously seen drivers from various competitions jump into F3 cars, with F4 and Formula Regional talent keen to test themselves against drivers who currently compete on the F1 support bill.

But the change has not excited those currently in F3, with Prema driver Mini explaining: “Me personally, I don’t really know. I don’t think it will be as good.

“Of course, F3 is a big, big step from Formula Regional, so last year when I was there it was just crazy with the amount of speed that you could carry. The amount of power and the speed at the end of the straight was just crazy and, with the DRS, it made the racing really nice.

“But in Formula Regional, the car is really heavy compared to the power you have. You have no DRS so it’s going to be really hard to overtake and also, in the high-speed corners, in F3 there is much more aero while in Formula Regional, there is much less.

“So I think it will be much less fun compared to the car we ran last year. I don’t know if we will go there.”

In agreement, ART driver Laurens van Hoepen added: “I completely agree. Last year was super-exciting with the F3 car and it provided quite good racing and it was really a great track to drive on. By going to the Formula Regional car, it makes it less exciting in general, which is a shame.”

However, the change of car specification hasn’t put off all drivers, with the allure of Macau remaining enough to some, including rookie driver Nikita Bedrin.

“I wouldn’t mind doing it but I don’t see many chances of that happening, I would say. Just because it’s a cool track, I would do it,” he said.

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