Photo: F3 Americas/SCCA Pro Racing

F3 Americas launches car; confirms April 2018 debut at VIR

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Following up the announcement in September that there’d be another announcement, the Formula 3 Americas Championship Powered by Honda today both launched its car and announced its debut race date of April 27, 2018.

This will be on the same weekend card as the F4 U.S. Championship and Pirelli World Challenge at VIRginia International Raceway in Alton, Va.

The SCCA Pro Racing-sanctioned series is termed a regional F3 series by the FIA, with top drivers awarded FIA Super License points.

The formal car launch along with further series details occurred today at Circuit of The Americas, as part of F4’s season finale weekend with Formula 1 at the United States Grand Prix.

F3 Americas will feature two 30-minute races per weekend, with 30-minute practices and qualifying sessions. In addition to the debut race at VIR, there will be five race weekends at prestigious tracks around the United States. There will be two series-supported season tests, one to be held prior to the first race, and the other during the season.

The Honda-powered, Pirelli tire-shod Ligier Crawford JS F3 chassis is made in North Carolina and developed by Onroak Automotive, at its U.S. base. Onroak Automotive has established a major foothold in the domestic and international sports car world with its Ligier JS P2, then Ligier JS P3 and Ligier JS P217 LMP2 and LMP3 chassis at the FIA WEC, IMSA and ELMS series levels, and other chassis beyond that in smaller championships.

F3 Americas lists the full car’s price at $119,800. The budget goes up slightly when you factor in the cost of running the series itself and traveling to the six race weekends; nonetheless the target is to establish a cost-effective championship to build on what F4’s done over the last two years. Those grids have gone from the mid-teens to start to the mid-30s, pushing 40 cars this year.

With the confirmation of the car and the two series, Onroak Automotive also has established the Ligier Championship 2018 Scholarship, which will award $500,000 in scholarships.

The 2018 F4 U.S. champion will receive a $100,000 scholarship to graduate to F3 Americas, and then the 2018 F3 Americas champion and runner-up will both receive a $200,000 scholarship to move into F3 international or LMP3.

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”