The 2006 Formula 3 Euro Series season was the fourth championship year of Europe's premier Formula Three series. As in previous years, there were ten rounds - each with two races - held at a variety of European circuits. Each weekend consisted of one 60-minute practice session and one qualifying session, followed by one c.110 km race and one c.80 km race. In a revised qualifying system that used only one session, the starting order for race 2 was determined by the finishing order of race 1, with the top eight positions reversed.
2006 saw the Euro Series make its debut at three venues: Brands Hatch in the UK, the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona in Spain, and Le Mans. This was the first time that rounds had been held in Britain and Spain.
A number of regulatory changes took place prior to the 2006 season. Mid-season testing was heavily restricted to a maximum of 10 days per driver/car, with no testing at race venues, leaving teams and drivers to make the most of the race weekend test sessions. The qualifying session for race 2 was dropped in favour of a result-based reverse grid system. The finishing order of race 1 decided the grid for race 2, with the top eight finishers reversed. Chassis specifications of between two and four years old (from 2002-2004) were permitted for the first time, with the creation of the Drivers' Trophy title. Eligibility for this award was restricted to drivers who were not more than 22 years old.
After Lewis Hamilton's domination of the 2005 season, the 2006 championship battle was considerably closer. The title was won by Scotsman Paul di Resta, who ended the year 11 points ahead of Germany's Sebastian Vettel. For much of the season, di Resta and Vettel were exchanging the points lead, but the German's focus wavered towards the end of the year. BMW-Sauber's motorsport director Mario Theissen attributed this to the busy schedule that Vettel undertook as his team's test driver in the last three Grands Prix of the 2006 F1 season. Other drivers worthy of note included Kamui Kobayashi, who finished on the podium twice on the way to winning the Rookie Cup, and race winner Kazuki Nakajima, whose performances attracted a testing contract with Williams.
Not surprisingly, the two main championship contenders were team-mates at ASM Formule 3, the French-based team that has dominated the Euro Series for the last three seasons with three Drivers' and Teams' Championship titles in succession. 2006 saw another improvement in form from Manor Motorsport - a former multiple champion team in British F3. With Japan's Kohei Hirate and the experienced Esteban Guerrieri, it was frequently ASM's closest challenger and finished 2nd in the Teams' Championship standings. This year, Manor was no longer the sole British team in the Euroseries - it was joined by entries from Hitech Racing and Fortec Motorsport at Hockenheim (round 1) and Brands Hatch (round 4).
With only one race win for an Opel-powered car - from a reverse-grid pole position - it was another season of domination by the HWA-built Mercedes engine. Dallara was the de facto sole supplier of chassis, with the Signature SLC project on indefinite hold and the Mygale chassis still yet to race in this series.
Prema Powerteam's third entry was taken over by Italy's Paulo Maria Nocera for four rounds, starting at the Nürburgring. He in turn was replaced by Brazil's Roberto Streit at the final round of the season. Bruno Rudolf Fechner started five races in SMS Seyffarth Motorsport's #44 entry, but was substituted by fellow German Dominik Schraml in round 3 at Oschersleben. The #44 car was not present at every round. Schraml made a one-off return at the Norisring, driving a Dallara-Opel for FS Motorsport. Kevin Fank's #42 SMS Seyffarth Motorsport entry returned at the Norisring in the hands of Gina Maria Adenauer before it, too, failed to make another appearance. Like the drivers that they replaced, Schraml and Adenauer were eligible for the Drivers' Trophy. Julien Abelli, of Janiec Racing, did not make any appearances until the Le Mans round.
In round 5 at the Norisring, F3 rookie Natacha Gachnang of Switzerland drove a second entry for Jo Zeller Racing. She also competed in rounds 6, 9, and 10. In the F3 Masters at Zandvoort, ATS F3 Cup team Van Amersfoort Racing made a one-off appearance with two cars for its Cup regulars, Dominik Muermans and Récardo Bruins Choi.
|2||R1||EuroSpeedway Lausitz||Germany||29 April|
|3||R1||Motorsport Arena Oschersleben||Germany||20 May|
|4||R1||Brands Hatch||United Kingdom||1 July|
|5||R1||Norisring, Nuremberg||Germany||22 July|
|7||R1||Circuit Park Zandvoort||Netherlands||2 September|
|8||R1||Circuit de Catalunya||Spain||4 September|
|9||R1||Bugatti Circuit, Le Mans||France||14 October|
|Round||Circuit||Pole Position||Fastest Lap||Winning Driver||Winning Team||Winning Rookie||Trophy Winner|
|1||R1||Hockenheimring||Esteban Guerrieri||Kazuki Nakajima||Kohei Hirate||Manor Motorsport||Kamui Kobayashi||Julian Theobald|
|R2||Kohei Hirate||Sebastian Vettel||ASM Formule 3||Kamui Kobayashi||Julian Theobald|
|2||R1||EuroSpeedway Lausitz||Paul di Resta||Kohei Hirate||Esteban Guerrieri||Manor Motorsport||Jonathan Summerton|
|R2||Kazuki Nakajima||Kazuki Nakajima||Manor Motorsport||Jonathan Summerton|
|3||R1||Motorsport Arena Oschersleben||Esteban Guerrieri||Peter Elkmann||Paul di Resta||ASM Formule 3||Kamui Kobayashi||Julian Theobald|
|R2||Sébastien Buemi||Sébastien Buemi||ASL Mücke Motorsport||Kamui Kobayashi||Julian Theobald|
|4||R1||Brands Hatch||Paul di Resta||Paul di Resta||Paul di Resta||ASM Formule 3||Kamui Kobayashi|
|R2||Sebastian Vettel||Peter Elkmann||Jo Zeller Racing||Kamui Kobayashi|
|5||R1||Norisring||Giedo van der Garde||Sebastian Vettel||Paul di Resta||ASM Formule 3||Jonathan Summerton||Gina-Maria Adenauer|
|R2||Sébastien Buemi||Giedo van der Garde||ASM Formule 3||Kamui Kobayashi||Anthony Janiec|
|6||R1||Nürburgring||Sebastian Vettel||Sebastian Vettel||Sebastian Vettel||ASM Formule 3||Kamui Kobayashi||Bruno Fechner|
|R2||Kamui Kobayashi||Sebastian Vettel||ASM Formule 3||Kamui Kobayashi||Julian Theobald|
|7||R1||Circuit Park Zandvoort||Paul di Resta||Sébastien Buemi||Paul di Resta||ASM Formule 3||Kamui Kobayashi||Bruno Fechner|
|R2||Sebastian Vettel||Charlie Kimball||Signature-Plus||Tim Sandtler||Julian Theobald|
|8||R1||Circuit de Catalunya||Paul di Resta||Sebastian Vettel||Sebastian Vettel||ASM Formule 3||Kamui Kobayashi|
|R2||Kohei Hirate||Richard Antinucci||HBR Motorsport||Tim Sandtler|
|9||R1||Bugatti Circuit||Giedo van der Garde||Esteban Guerrieri||Paul di Resta||ASM Formule 3||Jonathan Summerton||Cemil Çipa|
|R2||Sébastien Buemi||Richard Antinucci||HBR Motorsport||Jonathan Summerton||Julien Abelli|
|10||R1||Hockenheimring||Paul di Resta||Sébastien Buemi||Esteban Guerrieri||Manor Motorsport||Jonathan Summerton||Anthony Janiec|
|R2||Sébastien Buemi||Jonathan Summerton||ASL Mücke Motorsport||Jonathan Summerton||Cemil Çipa|
The Drivers' Trophy is restricted to drivers who are not more than 22 years old, using chassis specifications that are 2 to 4 years old.
Bold - Pole
+ -- Drivers did not finish the race, but were classified as they completed over 90% of the race distance.
The effects of the new reverse-grid system - which put the 8th-placed finisher from race 1 on pole for race 2 - can be seen clearly in this chart. 50% of the race 2 pole sitters went on to win, while there was only one double winner (Vettel in round 6) and no other race 1 winner even reached the podium in race 2.
Rookie drivers are only eligible for the Rookie Cup title if they have not previously competed in a national or international Formula 3 championship.
|1||ASM Formule 3||197|
|4||ASL Mücke Motorsport||69|
|6||Jo Zeller Racing||18|
|7||Bas Leinders Junior Racing Team||16|