ART Grand Prix have announced that they will not contest the Formula 3 Euro Series in 2011. The withdrawal of the French squad leaves the championship under threat.
ART (and its predecessor ASM) won every F3 Euro Series title from 2004 until 2009, with its impressive list of champions featuring Jamie Green, Lewis Hamilton, Paul di Resta, Romain Grosjean, Nico Hulkenberg and Jules Bianchi. Formula 1 drivers Adrian Sutil and Sebastian Vettel took the runners-up spots driving for ASM in 2005 and 2006 respectively.
In addition to its successful GP2 operation, ART joined the F3-rivalling GP3 Series in 2010, taking the inaugural title with Esteban Gutierrez. They recently announced a partnership with Group Lotus that will come into effect next year.
Team boss Frederic Vasseur said: The F3 Euro Series was the ideal platform for ART Grand Prix, one on which the company based its growth and its success since the birth of the discipline in 2003. It is with regret that due to the termination of our F3 programme we leave the F3 Euro Series after having obtained all the titles between 2004 and 2009. We make a point of thanking HWA as well as our partners and drivers, but the time has come for ART Grand Prix to concentrate on new ambitious challenges.”
The F3 Euro Series struggled during 2010 to maintain high grid levels after the arrival of GP3, to which many of its teams switched. The existing teams had expressed concerns about the future direction of the series, which announced revisions to the event format for next year, including a third race at each weekend to boost track time for aspiring young drivers.
However, the departure of its most successful team could mark the beginning of the end for the series. A merger with the British F3 Championship has been amongst the solutions previously discussed, while FIA president Jean Todt recently expressed his determination to ensure that Formula 3 remained a prominent category on the ladder to Formula 1.