Motorsport: Cassidy upset at GP3 decision

By Eric Thompson

Manor shuts door on Kiwi, but T-Sport opens another, reports Eric Thompson

NZ Grand Prix winner Nick Cassidy put up solid times in testing the new GP3 car for Marussia Manor Racing at Estoril, Portugal. Photo / Bruce Jenkins
NZ Grand Prix winner Nick Cassidy put up solid times in testing the new GP3 car for Marussia Manor Racing at Estoril, Portugal. Photo / Bruce Jenkins

Two-time Toyota Racing Series champion and New Zealand Grand Prix winner Nick Cassidy and his team stumbled at the last hurdle in securing a drive with GP3 team outfit Marussia Manor Racing.

As he was closing on finalising the deal to race in the series, Cassidy was gazumped by Ryan Cullen, who contested two rounds of the Toyota Racing Series before going back to Europe.

"I cannot express how disappointed I am not to be in it," said Cassidy on his Facebook page.

"That's racing these days, but I am thankful for the amazing opportunity to take part in most of the testing and show what could have been possible, especially next weekend at Barcelona (opening GP3 round).

"Staying positive and pushing for the future."

When one door shuts, another opens and Cassidy has picked up a test with the European F3 Championship Threebond T-Sport team which, if successful and contingent on funding, could lead to a gig for the rest of the season.

When Cassidy won his two TRS titles he was up against some of the best up-and-coming open wheel drivers in the world, many of whom gained seats in the Euro F3 series.

They include Ferrari junior driver Raffaele Marciello, Alex Lynn, Lucas Auer, Jann Mardenborough, Felix Serralles and the two women who have competed in the recent TRS, Tatiana Calderon and Michela Cerruti.

"I'd been set to do GP3 this year with Manor, but my funding fell over at the last minute, which was a shame. Since then I've been looking for new opportunities," Cassidy told Autosport.

"I wasn't looking at racing this year since the GP3 thing fell over, but now that Will Buller's changed his plans there's a car available and I'm really looking forward to testing.

"The plans don't go beyond the test as I haven't got the budget to do a race. Something will have to change to do that.

"I really hope the test goes well because I'd love to do the rest of the season with T-Sport."

At the last round of the championship at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, T-Sport fielded just one car for Spike Goddard as Will Buller had jumped ship to Fortec Racing just ahead of the event.

The F3 series, in its various guises, has a long, rich history. In 1975, the FIA initiated the European Formula 3 Championship, and the series lasted until 1984.

The European Formula 3 Cup became the successor, and was contested as an annual single event until 2004, with a nine-year break from 1991 to 1998.

In 2003 an elite classification was bestowed on the class - the Formula 3 Euro Series.

On one hand it continued the idea of a European Formula 3 championship, and on the other, because of the merger of the French and German national F3 championships, it became the successor of these two race series. Besides the Euro Series and the German Formula 3 Cup there are further national series in other countries, for example the Spanish, Italian and British Formula 3, and the Japanese Formula 3 - considered the strongest Formula 3 series outside Europe.

In 2011 the FIA organised the FIA Formula 3 International Trophy with races all over the world.

The FIA European Formula 3 Championship then replaced the trophy last year. In addition to this series, the races in Zandvoort and Macau were retained.

The list of Formula One drivers who have graced the various F3 championships include Nelson Piquet, Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Mika Hakkinen, Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton and defending world F1 champion Sebastian Vettel.

Most of the current crop of young drivers competing successfully in open wheel and sports car categories, including New Zealander Brendon Hartley, have cut their teeth in F3.

If Cassidy can get a drive and do well, it could be the stepping stone he needs to restart his foray into the top echelons of racing.

- NZ Herald

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