Volkswagen Back in Formula Three

By: Anthony Fontanelle

German automaker Volkswagen recently announced that they will be making their presence felt once again in Formula Three. The biggest European automaker announced that they will make their return to the sport later this season as they will be supplying engines to participating teams in the current season of the F3 Euroseries.

This will not be the first time that the German automaker will take an active participation in the sport. From 1979 until 1991, the automobile manufacturer recorded 92 wins at the German F3 series.

Along the way, the automaker has worked with drivers who had gone on to the big leagues, Formula One. Michael Schumacher, the seven-time Formula One world champion once raced in Formula Three with a Volkswagen engine. Tom Kristensen is also another successful race driver who also raced in Formula Three with a car equipped with a Volkswagen engine. Similar to Schumacher, Kristensen is also a seven-time champion but in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The German automaker will be supplying 210-bhp two-liter engines to teams that the automaker is yet to name. Currently, all but one team in the Euroseries are using Mercedes-Benz engines. The exception is AM Holzer Rennsport which uses engines from Opel.

"With its aluminum cylinder block, the power unit possesses excellent basic architecture for the high demands in Formula 3," Wolfgang Hatz said, the Head of Powertrain Development for Volkswagen. "The very first development steps have confirmed this potential. The engine is now ripe for its first direct comparison on the race track."

The first race after a long tome that a Volkswagen engine will be used in Formula Three will be held at the NÃ?rburgring in Nurburg, Germany. The engine has been tested for racing applications and all its racing components have been checked including its but the true test will come on race day.

"Following the good test results obtained over the past few months, the race debut represents the first opportunity to see exactly where we stand in comparison with the competition," said Kris Nissen, Volkswagen's motorsport director.

Meanwhile, Audi has positive reaction about Volkswagen's re-entry to the Formula Three series. According to reports, Audi is looking to spot talented drivers from the F3 project of Volkswagen for their own racing program at the DTM or Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters.

Audi is owned by the Volkswagen Group and the link between the two automakers would mean that both will have the chance to groom drivers for their respective motorsports programs. "We always try to share a little bit the driver build-up within the group, and the F3 program suits this well," says Wolfgang Ullrich in an interview with autosport.com

Audi is competing with Mercedes-Benz in DTM while Volkswagen will be competing with Mercedes-Benz too in the Formula Three. In the past, Mercedes-Benz has the advantage over Audi since it can take drivers from the Euroseries to DTM which Audi was not successful in emulating. But with Volkswagen back in F3, Audi will have an almost level playing field with Mercedes-Benz.

This is supported by Nissen saying: "Volkswagen has been committed to promoting young talent for many decades. Returning to Formula Three is therefore the logical continuation of this commitment." One question that arises from this development though is whether Volkswagen or Audi will be moving up to challenge Mercedes-Benz in Formula One.

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