Formula V8 3.5 to support FIA WEC from 2017

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Formula V8 3.5 will become a support series for the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2017, featuring on the undercard of at least six of the sportscar series’ nine events next year.

Formula V8 3.5 took over from the hugely successful Formula Renault 3.5 at the end of last year, acting as a high-level single-seater junior championship for those looking to reach Formula 1.

The series has struggled with grid numbers so far this year, with just 13 cars entering the last race at Silverstone.

However, Formula V8 3.5 has now been handed a boost following the WEC’s announcement on Thursday that the two series would join forces for 2017.

“Jaime Alguersuari, President of RPM Racing and Gérard Neveu, CEO of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) have reached an extremely encouraging agreement that will link the Formula V8 3.5 series to the majority of the 2017 WEC events,” a statement reads.

“The agreement includes a minimum of three overseas rounds in Mexico, Japan and Bahrain, the last being the final event of the endurance championship, in addition to three of the four European events on the WEC calendar: Silverstone, Spa and Nürburgring.

“Both organizations have as their main aim the desire to provide young single-seater drivers with the opportunity to enter a professional motorsport environment offering a clear and well-defined professional career path including LMP1, LMP2 and GTE in addition to any other series in the pinnacle of motorsport.

“This benefits not only the drivers but also their families or backers. The WEC and RPM wish to offer the young drivers an outstanding international calendar with affordable costs.

“Included in this historic new motorsport project is an amazing prize: the chance to be part of the WEC’s Rookie Test in Bahrain in the main categories of LMP1 or LMP2 or GTE for the drivers placed first, second and third in the Formula V8 3.5 championship.”

“It is very good news that the V8 3.5 series will join the FIA WEC race meetings from 2017,” Neveu said.

“Great news for the fans, but also for the young drivers who are the champions of the future, and the future is tomorrow.

“This single-seater championship has demonstrated for many years how very appealing and exciting it can be, while at the same time providing many great champions.

“It makes sense to offer to the new generation of drivers access to a well-established championship such as the FIA WEC. The fact that the champions will have an opportunity to take part in the WEC’s official rookie test at the end of the season will be additional motivation and a target for everyone on the grid.

“We know also that RPM, promoter of this single-seater championship, shares the same values as the ACO, the promoter of the FIA WEC. It was logical to join together.

“This combination of V8 3.5 and Sports Prototype and GT cars, in the same place at the same time, will provide for the pleasure of the fans a fantastic motorsport show with great racing over the same weekend, a real festival of motorsport.

“The FIA WEC Paddock is really delighted to welcome V8 3.5, and we look forward to moving ahead together with this project where the main target is to have happy drivers, competitors, manufacturers, partners, media and fans.”

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.

It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas, for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.