F3000 Italia 1999 - season review
The F3000 Italia series was a great success in its first year. Initially it was intended to have a British and Italian series which would allow a system of promotion and relegation to International F3000. The UK3000 series almost got off the ground, but was cancelled due to support changing to the oversubscribed International F3000. As a result Italian F3000 had strong fields by the end of the year and support from established teams along with graduating British and Italian teams. The winning team would be granted the final entry for International F3000 in 2000; this turned out to be the ex-Formula Renault team Martello. The title boiled down to a straight fight between the Italian Giorgio Vinella (above) and the South African Werner Lupberger.
Over the course of the year many established F3000 drivers drove in the series; Marco Apicella (also a former F1 driver - briefly!), Marcelo Battistuzzi, Dino Morelli, Werner Lupberger and the eventual champion Giorgio Vinella amongst them. Their experience showed; of the top seven drivers sharing the top five positions at the end of the year only Gabriele Lancieri was an F3000 rookie.
Other younger drivers showed much promise too; the likes of Alex Yoong and Ananda Mikola shone despite their inexperience. Indeed Mikola won at Enna only to be later disqualified for a technical infringement. Apicella, who was an F3000 regular in the late 80s and early 90s, won two races, but was inconsistent in races. Battistuzzi won on his debut at Monza, but wasn't helped by switching between Redgrave Racing and Coloni while at the same time driving for a host of teams in International F3000. At least he got the chance to win again after struggling in F3000 since winning the Formula Opel title in 1997. Dino Morelli had the chance to return to form for the first time since his horrific Nurburgring accident in 1997, winning in his second race at the Imola finale.
Like the International series, F3000 Italia suffered tragedy away from the track when point-scorer Riccardo Moscatelli died in training on his mountain bike. A moment's silence was held for him before the fifth round. Although grids started with just 14 cars (only 12 racing at Monza), by the end of the year they had expanded to 20 cars.