2016 will see the fifth season of the FIA European Formula 3 Championship after it was revived out of the ashes of the Formula 3 Euro Series, but since its return, there has been one team who have seemingly dominated – Prema Powerteam.
Having won the final F3 Euro Series title with Spaniard Roberto Merhi, Prema remain the dominant force in European Formula 3, having clinched the title in each of the four previous seasons, and heading into 2016, have another strong chance to continue that run.
The run began in 2012, when current DTM Series star Daniel Juncadella took five victories, with the Spaniard also taking an additional five runners-up spot as he finished 23.5 points clear of his closest rival and team-mate Raffaele Marciello, while the closest non-Prema driver was Felix Rosenqvist in third, who finished 60 points back.
2012 Prema Powerteam Drivers – Daniel Juncadella, Sven Muller, Michael Lewis, Raffaele Marciello – 12 victories from 20 races – 25 podium finishes.
In 2013 it was Marciello’s time to shine, with the Italian, then part of the Ferrari Driver Academy and currently a GP2 Series regular, took thirteen victories on the way to the crown, beating Rosenqvist once more by 32.5 points, while team-mate Alex Lynn ended up third, albeit 150 back. Lynn did make amends however by winning the Macau Grand Prix that year.
2013 Prema Powerteam Drivers – Raffaele Marciello, Alex Lynn, Lucas Auer, Eddie Cheever III – 17 victories from 30 races – 46 podium finishes.
2016 DTM Series ace and Renault Formula 1 reserve driver Esteban Ocon was the one to beat in 2014, with the Frenchman securing nine race victories on the way to the championship, beating Briton Tom Blomqvist by 58 points and Dutchman Max Verstappen by 67 points. The next best Prema driver was Antonio Fuoco in fifth.
2014 Prema Powerteam Drivers – Nicholas Latifi, Esteban Ocon, Antonio Fuoco, Dennis van de Laar – 11 victories in 30 races – 32 podium finishes.
In 2015, having switched over from Mücke Motorsport, long time rival and now Indy Lights race winner Rosenqvist finally had his opportunity at Prema, and he did not disappoint, taking a record breaking 13 race victories and 16 pole positions on his way to the title, beating Antonio Giovinazzi by 105.5 points, while team-mate Jake Dennis secured third in the standings and Lance Stroll fifth.
2015 Prema Powerteam Drivers – Felix Rosenqvist, Jake Dennis, Brandon Maisano, Nick Cassidy, Maximilian Günther, Lance Stroll – 20 victories in 33 races – 48 podium finishes.
Now heading into 2016, what can the current line-up of Stroll, Maximilian Günther, Nick Cassidy and Ralf Aron achieve? Can they emulate those before them by clinching the title, or will Prema Powerteam’s impressive run in European Formula 3 finally come to an end by one of the team’s eager to beat the Italian powerhouse? Let the 30-race season commence!