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British outfit Fortec aiming for European F3 return in 2018

Pietro Fittipaldi, Fortec, European F3 2015

British single-seater team Fortec Motorsport plans to return to the Formula 3 European Championship in 2018 after an absence of two years.

Fortec sat out the 2016 season after failing to attract drivers, although it did contest the Masters of F3 and the Macau Grand Prix.

The team hoped to do deals with category newcomers Jehan Daruvala and Ferdinand Habsburg for 2017 after testing them last year, but they both opted for Carlin instead, so Fortec will sit out this season too.

But Fortec senior engineer Mick Kouros, who also team-manages the company's squad that competes in the Euroformula Open series for current-generation F3 chassis, is optimistic that the team can return to the category's top level next year.

Kouros believes that the new FIA F3 regulations, banning windtunnel and aerodynamic work on the new-for-2017 Dallara aero kit, will make it easier to compete.

"I don't see why we can't come back and do a good job, mainly because of the FIA regulations," Kouros told Autosport.

"They enable any team to enter the championship and be competitive against all the other teams.

"The perception that other teams may or may not have had an advantage - which is debateable anyway - will change, and it will purely come down to having a good driver who develops a good understanding of their car, just as it used to be.

"Drivers will be looking at a level playing field, regardless of how much funding the other teams have had."

Fortec has two FIA F3 chassis, which last raced in the Macau GP with Habsburg and Sam MacLeod, and will modernise them with the new update kit when the green light is pressed on a European F3 programme.

The team anticipates competing in the Macau GP with the update kit, or staying in Europe for a testing programme.

In the meantime, Fortec will run Russian Yan Shlom and German Jannes Fittje, both of whom are Formula 4 graduates, in Euroformula Open this season, and has the capacity to expand to a four-car line-up.

Shlom and Fittje finished first and second respectively in the first race of the recent Winter Series event at Paul Ricard.

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