World Series 3.5 V8 championship has been brought to an end. The formula that started back in 1998, bringing us many F1 talents such as Alonso, Ricciardo and Vettel has announced 2017 as it’s last season.
The series started off back in the late nineties as the “Euro Open by Nissan”, later named after its main sponsor “Open Telefónica by Nissan”, then “Telefónica World Series by Nissan” 2005 until 2015 with Renault as co-organiser “Formula Renault 3.5” and most recently 2016 Formula V8 3.5. Finally the name changed this year to World Series Formula V8 3.5. Not confusing at all huh?
Alas and as is the case with junior formulae, too few applicants have shown interest for the coming 2018 season. The RPM-MKTG-managed series reported a decline back in late 2015 with the withdrawal of Renault and things haven’t gotten any better since.
Former Grand Prix driver Gerhard Berger summed up the basic problem in a nutshell: “Over the years, we have received far too many junior series. This has diluted the individual driver quality championships and reduced sponsorship potential. Together with the FIA, the plan was therefore to re-establish a clear path – Formula 4, Formula 3, Formula 2, Formula 1.
Founded with Jaime Alguersuari senior as the boss, the series became the training ground for more than two dozen Formula One drivers.
Fernando Alonso stormed to victory in 1999 with nine pole positions and six victories, Sebastian Vettel refined his racing skills in Formula Renault 3.5 in 2006 and 2007, as did Daniel Ricciardo (championship 2010), Kevin Magnussen (2013 champion), Carlos Sainz ( Champion 2014), later GP winners Heikki Kovalainen (Champion 2004) and Robert Kubica (Champion 2005), McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne (Second 2013), Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly (Second 2014), Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi (third in 2011), Pastor Maldonado (third in 2006), Kamui Kobayashi, Brendon Hartley, Jules Binachi, Jaima Alguersuari Jr., Giedo van der Garde, Marc Gené, Ricardo Zonta and many more.
During it’s pomp, the grandstands were always lavishly filled with Renault demoing special car models along with former and current GP cars. The champion of the series would win a Formula 1 test with a Renault.
This year only the drivers of seven racing teams competed. The last two races being held this weekend in Bahrain, as part of the long-distance World Championship race weekend. Pietro Fittipaldi from Brazil (223), grandson of racing legend Emerson Fittipaldi, and the Russian Matewos Issaakjan (213) are fighting for the last title in the series for the foreseeable future.