In 1981, Stefan is faced with the decision of driving a Procar-BMW M1 race, where a place had become free following the death of Hans-Georg Bürger. Bellof declines, as there is no way he wants to drive a car with a roof. He is then sent to Bertram Schäfer, who lets this exceptional talent drive in Formula 3 for the first time in June in Wunstorf - free of charge, as fortunately, Goa's motor is still available. This is where people really start talking about Stefan: he drives the unfamiliar track in excellent times and is then able to start from pole position. He skids once on the wet course but picks up again lap after lap and comes in second. Schäfer is delighted, the title contenders Frank Jelinski and Franz Konrad shocked. They have never come across anyone like Stefan before! There has never been a talent like this among the Germans!
“Stefan's first performance was like a thunderbolt. He handled the Ralt with such playful ease as if he had never done anything else“
Bertram Schäfer, F3-Team boss 1981
Schäfer gives the young talent another race in Erding. But then the same problem pops up as with the Formula Ford: sponsors must be brought on board; otherwise Stefan can not drive any more. After a long and unsuccessful search, the exceptional talent finally gets to the real estate buyer and Porsche racing owner Georg Loos and lands the latter as a sponsor, only four days before the next race.
“His strengths are his iron will, incredible nerves, his absolute attitude to racing“.
The contract is not half bad: Stefan commits to Loos until 1983 and must also race for the latter in the Renault 5 Turbo, a car with a roof. In the end, he drives in both the Formula Ford and Formula 3 at the same time, and both titles are within easy reach – even though Stefan only gets into the Formula 3 in the middle of the season! In the final at the Nürburgring, Stefan is even the points leader, but he still does not land the win. He is the victim of a ramming, after which he catches up again, but is then rammed again - by the same driver! The attacks throw him too far back. There is indignation everywhere, since the manoeuvre was well planned, allegedly even by Konrad himself, but nothing can be proved. As a result, Jelinski wins the title, Konrad comes second and Stefan third. Nevertheless Stefan is happy: he makes a name for himself and the competition starts to realise they are not dealing with just any normal driver.
“A scandal occurred in the last round of the German Formula 3 Championship at the Nürburgring. Favourite Stefan Bellof was already rammed in the first round by a specially hired "killer". That was the end“.
Original report Express Köln, 21.09.1981
Finally, at the end of the season, Bellof and sponsor Loos end up in a legal dispute. Loos can not come up with a binding schedule and Stefan wants to switch to Formula 2 and has already established contacts. In the end, the young racing driver has to pay a fee of 37.500DM to get out of the oppressive contract. A bit much, but his career has to be driven forward. The goal of Formula 1 is getting closer.