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Berger aims to reform path to Formula One

ESPN Staff
August 15, 2012 « Silverstone aims to raise £150m | Natural talent shines through - Wolff »
Gerhard Berger wants a greater focus on Formula 3, won by Lewis Hamilton in 2005 © Sutton Images
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Gerhard Berger wants to reform junior single seater championships to give young drivers a simpler path to Formula One.

The former McLaren, Ferrari and Benetton driver is now the president of the FIA Single Seater Commission, overseeing the pyramid between karting and Formula One. He told the FIA's In Motion magazine that the current system that young drivers have to go through is too large and complicated, making it difficult to identify talent across different categories of championship.

"I am doing this simply to try to give something back to the sport," Berger said. "The Commission looks at everything between karting and Formula One and I find that the pyramid at the moment is very loose: there are too many championships out there and attention between them is split too much.

"People are complaining that the best drivers are now all spread out and so you cannot look at the British Formula 3 Championship, for example, are say that he is certain to get to Formula One. These days the best drivers are all over the place: one in Formula 3, one in GP3, one in Formula Renault and one in Formula Abarth. The system no longer does what it is supposed to do, which is to give a highly talented driver a CV he can use to progress to Formula One.

"I went through the system myself and I have seen it for 30 years now and I am sure that I can bring something to the sport because of the contacts I have made during my career and maybe having the right strengths to help sort out what is required."

Berger said that the main area of focus was to reform Formula 3. The category was previously a crucial proving ground for drivers looking to break in to Formula One, with the British F3 championship boasting previous winners such as Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, Emerson Fittipaldi, Ayrton Senna and Mika Hakkinen.

"The most urgent thing is to sort out Formula 3. For me this has always been the most important class for young drivers. That is where you can really see for the first time how much talent someone has. Nowadays there are so many championships, even inside Formula 3 itself. There are national championships holding races outside their own countries and each series has different regulations. Some countries have championships that are not very strong, with only eight or ten cars and others have A, B and C classes, and so on. And you have different engine rules as well. It is not Formula 3 as we knew it.

"That is the area we are starting to deal with and the first thing I did was to introduce a new FIA European Formula 3 Championship. This is not popular with everyone because there are a lot of vested interests, but I don't care about that. We need to start with a new platform and that is the new championship."

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