Renault and the British Automobile Racing Club (BARC) are bringing true junior single-seater racing back to British shores with the announcement on Sunday, 23rd June, of a brand new category for the 2014 season the Formula Renault UK 1.6 Championship.
Featuring the tried and tested all-carbon Signatech chassis, which is raced across Europe in the Formula Renault 1.6 NEC and Nordic series plus the French Auto Sport Academy series, the new championship is aimed at drivers between 16 and 19-years-of-age.
The car itself, which is powered by a normally-aspirated 1.6-litre, 140hp Renault engine taken from the Twingo Renaultsport 133 road car, has been designed as the perfect step between the world of karting and the next level of single-seater racing, such as Formula Renault 2.0.
Placing huge emphasis on education as well as competition, drivers choosing to race in Formula Renault 1.6 will be required to sign-up to a special fitness programme which will be monitored by MSA (Motor Sports Association) Academy coaches.
As part of a wide ranging package of support, competitors will also receive training centred on media, sponsorship procurement and presentation skills. Most notably, there will be a break in the planned 18 to 20-race season which specifically falls during the period of GSCE school examinations.
Some of the key features of the Formula Renault UK 1.6 Championship include:
- Maximum eight event season comprising 18 to 20 races which completely avoids GCSE examination time
- Proven all-carbon Signatech chassis which conforms to FIA Formula 3 2008 safety standards
- Championship open to drivers from 16-years-of-age with an upper age limit of 19
- Professional organisation and co-ordination from Renaultsport and the BARC
- Strong emphasis on maintaining technical equity
- Cost-effective junior category accessible to true privateers as well as professional teams
- First rung on the extensive Renaultsport ladder of opportunity which can now see a driver potentially progress all the way to the FIA Formula One World Championship with Renault
Having already been on display in the UK at the Autosport International Show back in January, the Formula Renault 1.6 car was officially presented to invited motor racing teams and media at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire this morning where the sister Renault UK Clio Cup was in action.
Speaking on the announcement of the brand new category, championship manager Simon North said: “We’re thrilled to announce the birth of the Formula Renault UK 1.6 Championship, it’s the perfect category to bridge the gap which currently exists in Britain between karting and the higher levels of junior single-seater racing, such as Formula Renault 2.0.
“Formula Renault 1.6 is an inexpensive first step for drivers coming out of karting to take and, most importantly, the car is a proven, incredibly safe, fully carbon chassis. We didn’t want to see drivers as young as 16 racing having to develop a brand new car, so a proven chassis with an excellent safety record was the only option for Renaultsport and the BARC.”
North added: “Not since the 1990s has there been a strong, truly ‘junior’ formula in UK motorsport. But we’re not just introducing another car and another championship, we’re bringing a different direction, with fully linked programmes, which enable drivers to have maximum focus on their education at the same time as setting off on the path towards a professional motor racing career.
“Our aim is for the Formula Renault UK 1.6 Championship to prepare drivers for Formula Renault 2.0, which is why we’ll be reviewing our existing 2.0-litre category to see what steps we can take to maintain a proper progression between the two.”
Rudy Thomann, International Co-ordination Manager at Renault Sport Technologies, has been instrumental in bringing Formula Renault 1.6 to the UK with the British market an absolutely vital part of Renaultsport’s global motor racing strategy.
In Europe, Formula Renault 1.6 has already produced some exceptional racing drivers with the prime example being current Formula Renault 3.5 Series race winner Stoffel Vandoorne. After winning the Eurocup Formula Renault 1.6 Championship, the Belgian went on to win Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 two years later and is now a multiple race winner in his first season in Formula Renault 3.5.
It is that Renaultsport ‘ladder of opportunity’ which Thomann is so passionate about and he is keen to see young British drivers following the same sort of path as Vandoorne. He commented: “From day one, when I first met Lionel Chevalier [Signatech’s designer of the Formula Renault 1.6, I felt there was a gap in the Renaultsport ladder and this car fits perfectly.
“In Europe, all of the guys who have been winning races in the 2.0-litre championships all came from the 1.6. The concept of it is clear, it’s perfect for young drivers and a great way to learn the skills they need it is the best apprenticeship you can do".
Although the precise details of the 2014 calendar are yet to be confirmed, it is planned for the new championship to be contested over 18 to 20 races across a maximum eight events with a race meeting format of one qualifying session and either two or three rounds, dependant on the venue.
While expected to run alongside the sister Protyre Formula Renault Championship and the Michelin Clio Cup Series for the bulk of its season, Formula Renault UK 1.6 could also run as a guest support category at some of the country’s highest profile race meetings.
Ahead of the 2014 season, organisers are putting in place plans to run an ‘Autumn Trophy’ event at Rockingham in Northamptonshire on 2nd/3rd November to enable teams and prospective drivers to gain initial experience with the car ahead of its full debut.
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Marc Orme, Tel: +44 (0)7920 886985, Email: