With 10 race meetings in eight European countries, the European Championship remains the perfect platform for making the leap to the top categories of motor racing – particularly as its race weekends are held in the support programmes of top-class motor racing events. For reigning DTM Champion Marco Wittmann and Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen, racing in the European Formula 3 top category also represented an important step on their way up the motor-racing ladder.
The Formula 3 Euro Series began in 2003 as a merger of the French and German Formula 3 championships. It is part of the established ladder towards F1 and Lewis Hamilton, 2008 Formula One champion with McLaren, won the Euro Series drivers' title in 2005. The 2006 Euro Series champion Paul di Resta now drives for Force India-Mercedes in Formula One along with other notable former Euro F3 drivers, including Adrian Sutil and Nico Rosberg.
The original idea of a European F3 championship goes back even further, to 1975, and a five-race series known as the F3 European Cup. This covered events at Monaco, the Nürburgring, Anderstorp in Sweden, Monza and Croix-en-Ternois in France. That first year the title went to Larry Perkins, the Australian driving a Ralt-Ford run by Team Cowangie. Perkins went on to become a famous V8 Supercar driver, winning the Bathurst 1000 6 times.
The following season the Cup evolved into a full-scale, 10 round European F3 Championship, and was contested until 1984. Notable future Formula One drivers, such as Riccardo Patrese (champion in 1976) Alain Prost (1979), and the late Michele Alboreto (1980) were stars of the series.
Between 1985 and 2002 (with a break between 1991 and 1998) an FIA European Formula Three Cup was held. Just a single race and of correspondingly less importance.
Since the modern series began in 2003 the competition has again been much stronger and participants have gone on to fame and fortune. Junior Team member Sebastian Vettel finished second behind Paul di Resta in 2006 after being Rookie Champion in 2005 and before going on to F1 glory.
For 2011 the FIA ran the FIA Formula 3 International Trophy and it was over a total of 8 races at Hockenheim (2), Pau (1), Spa (2), Zandvoort (1) and Macau (2). The series was won by spaniard Roberto Merhi with 4 victories.
For 2012 the FIA decided to change tack and fold the International Trophy in favour of the FIA European Formula 3 Championship. It was only ratified by the World Motor Sport Council in Milan on March 9th, 2012. It included rounds of both the Formula 3 Euro Series and the British F3 Series making a total of 8 events around Europe. It was a situation that needed to sorted out if there was to be a clearly superior F3 with a single champion and those changes were made for 2013.
Since 2013, the 'FIA Formula 3 European Championship' has been – initiated by the FIA – a self-contained series that replaced the Formula 3 Euro Series. The FIA Formula 3 European Championship enters its sixth season in 2018 and has already established itself as the most significant Formula 3 series worldwide.