Check out the starting grid in most Formula 3 series around the world, and you’re bound to see a number of cars powered by Volkswagen engines. More likely than not, you’ll see a few in the winner’s circle at the end of the race, too. But that’s all coming to a close.
The German automaker has announced that its long-term commitment to Formula 3 racing will come to an end after this season.
That will leave Mercedes as the only engine supplier in the top FIA Formula 3 European Championship, for example. (unless another supplier can be found). And with VW engines having won the star-studded Macau Grand Prix the past two years running, next year we’ll see another on the podium. The same goes for the other dozen or so local and regional championships and standalone events.
“In Formula 3, Volkswagen can look back on a remarkable record,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets. “For more than three decades, Volkswagen teams and drivers have enjoyed great success against teams from other manufacturers – we are sincerely grateful to them for this.”
It’s only the latest in a string of withdrawals from motorsports that Volkswagen and its subsidiary brands have made in recent years. VW recently pulled out of the World Rally Championship, just as it did the Dakar Rally before. Audi and Porsche have both shut down their Le Mans prototype programs as well, channeling their efforts into Formula E instead.
That will leave Volkswagen Motorsport to focus instead on its customer racing programs, currently centered around the Golf GTI TCR touring car and the Polo GTI R5 rally car. Audi, Porsche, Bentley, Lamborghini, Seat, and Skoda also offer customer competition machinery.