A number of rule changes for the FIA European Formula 3 Championship have come into effect, one of which is the ability for a driver to jump straight from karting into the series.
Max Verstappen in 2014, plus Callum Ilott and Alessio Lorandi in 2015 have made the jump, but the rules have now been adapted to ensure a driver has had at least one season of car racing before being able to race in the championship.
The change was made on the back of the series of crashes seen during the 2015, although very few were in fact caused by any of the rookie drivers, while Ilott himself completed every race of the thirty-three that took place.
In other changes, a driver may now not continue in the championship for more than three seasons, meaning last year’s runner-up Antonio Giovinazzi will not be able to return for a fourth season, nor will Colombian driver Tatiana Calderon.
All drivers will be made to go on a mandatory FIA training programme to insure they are up to scratch to race, while a penalty points system will come into play, with drivers that exceed twelve points in a twelve month period being forced to sit out one race.
Teams will be limited to running just four cars from 2016, meaning Mücke Motorsport and Motopark, who regularly ran a fifth entry in 2015, will be forced to return to just the four cars, while satellite teams, such as Jo Zeller Racing, who ran in conjunction with Mücke in 2013, will need to run independently from now on.
Five and ten second penalties, much like seen in Formula 1, will now be available to stewards as well as the standard drive-through and stop-go penalties, while the Virtual Safety Car has also been brought into the championship in order for relatively minor incidents to be cleared up without needing the full safety car to intervene.
Drivers have been banned from testing any car on a circuit within three months before the scheduled European Formula 3 round at the same track, but teams will now be allowed to run cars from other Formula 3 championships in that period, with the FIA attempting to re-introduce national Formula 3 championships as a feeder series to the European series.
A further rule change sees the trio of ten-place grid penalties dropped to just one if the engine is damaged in an accident, meaning that if the driver is responsible for the engine being replaced, rather than for a mechanical issue, a sole 10-place penalty will be applied instead of three.
Competitors who miss a round are now subject to a minimum €5000 fine, unless the stewards judge that missing the event is beyond the control of the competitor. The punishment could increase to a possible exclusion from the championship.