There is set to be no standalone Formula Renault series in Britain for the first time in over 25 years next season following confirmation the planned Formula Renault UK revival has been axed.
Plans were in place to resurrect the series which was the last held in 2011 with the current Tatuus-designed FR2.0/13 chassis, as used in the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup, NEC and ALPS series.
That plan has been scrapped all together now though and further to that, the British Automobile Racing Club (BARC) has also dropped their club-level Protyre Formula Renault series.
That championship used the older two-litre Tatuus cars, which were going to be included in a ‘B’ class in the revived UK series.
Formula Renault UK was introduced in 1989 and ran through to 2011, with former champions including Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen, while the BARC series ran uninterrupted from 1995.
“We would have liked to have a full grid of Formula Renaults this year but it just simply wasn’t possible,” BARC general manager Ian Watson told Autosport.
“The fact that Formula Renault UK hasn’t returned as planned is a disappointment in no uncertain terms, but the single-seater market at the moment is fragile.”
The BARC have announced plans for a new Formula Libre category for this season, for which the ’13 spec Formula Renault cars will be eligible as well as pre-2012 Formula 3 and Formula BMW machinery, but it’s reported the MSA will reject this series.
A planned ‘Formula 5 Championship’ meanwhile will include the older Formula Renault cars alongside EcoBoost Formula Ford’s.
“There weren’t many positive signs over the winter that the planned Formula Renault UK revival was going to be a success, as while the new-for-2015 MSA Formula was accruing a sold-out grid and BRDC Formula 4 continued to grow with a new car announced, it remained eerily quiet from the Renault camp.
While on paper the return of Formula Renault, a mainstay of the British motorsport scene for 22 years, was seen as part of a resurgence for the UK single-seater scene, really it never looked like there was the demand for it in the UK market alongside the Formula 4 revolution.
With the popularity of the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup, Northern European Cup and ALPS series, few drivers were going to choose FRUK when they could race in large, competitive European grids on grand prix circuits for similar budgets.
While the failure of FRUK to reappear is a shame, the real disappointment for me would be if Formula Renault BARC disappeared, a series I covered from 2011 to 2013.
Although the ‘older’ Tatuus chassis has been around since the start of the century, I’ve heard nothing but praise from teams and drivers around the BARC paddock for the car as a great learning tool for a young driver.
While grid sizes may have dropped last season for the series, it has helped develop some great talents in recent seasons, including Dino Zamparelli, Josh Webster, Scott Malvern and Pietro Fittipaldi, and a market is still there for the championship at a club level.
The future for the Renaults now potentially lies in two different mixed chassis championships, with ‘Formula Libre’ and ‘Formula 5’ splitting the two Tatuus models. Sadly, it’s questionable as to whether either series will find the backing required to make it to the track.
What’s clear from this news is that there’s a new dawn for single-seater racing in the UK, a case of out with the old, Formula Renault and British Formula 3, and in with the new, MSA Formula and BRDC F4.”