The Cooper Tires British Formula 3 Championship returns to Thruxton for the first time since 2010 this weekend as the Formula 1 stars of tomorrow prepare to go wheel-to-wheel around the fastest track in the country – one that Mark Webber contends will really separate the men from the boys.
F3 has long been a successful breeding ground for future grand prix winners and world champions, propelling more drivers than any other series towards the pinnacle of international motor sport.
As a case in point, the last time the championship visited Thruxton four years ago, two of the races were won by current Scuderia Toro Rosso ace Jean-Eric Vergne while Jenson Button tallied his breakthrough F3 triumph in 1999.
Rewind a bit further, and in 1983 Ayrton Senna was crowned British F3 champion at Thruxton at the end of an epic season-long duel with current Sky Sports F1 commentator Martin Brundle.
The 2014 campaign has thus far been dominated by F3 stalwart Fortec Motorsports and its dynamic duo Matt Rao and Martin Cao. Rao leads the points table but the ultra-consistent Cao is only four markers adrift and poised to pounce.
Race fans can famously get close to the action at Thruxton and with not just British F3 but also Classic Touring Cars, Ferrari Classic and a number of other popular support series on the schedule this weekend.
Group managing director Bill Coombs reflects that it will be non-stop high-octane entertainment throughout.
“British F3 will generate the fastest four-wheeled racing at Thruxton all year, as the best young drivers of the moment bid to prove their mettle around the most demanding circuit in the country,” said Coombs, who competed at Thruxton in British F3 himself in 1985.
“It promises to be an awe-inspiring spectacle with plenty of thrills-and-spills – and keep your autograph books at the ready, too, because history suggests you may even spot a future F1 star in the field.”