Rosenqvist wins at Shanghai to finish season on top
Swedish super talent Felix Rosenqvist, 16, claimed his first ever single-seater victory as the Asian Formula Renault (AFR) Championship season came to an end at Shanghai International Circuit this weekend. 2007 saw Rosenqvist compete in his first year of racing outside the world of karting, and he quickly established himself as a future force to consider. After finishing fourth in the Championship and earning the "Rookie of the Year" title, Rosenqvist put in a perfect drive to take the win in Race 1 at the season-ending Shanghai meeting. The event was broadcast live on Chinese Television Station CCTV 5 and was watched by some 30 million people.
"It feels great to be able to finish the season with victory in Shanghai, something I could never contemplate at the beginning of the year", says Rosenqvist. "With two consecutive podiums this weekend I think we’ve found some great pace in the car, and I would like to thank my team, March3 Motorsport, for their support during the season."
Felix’s name was a constant feature at the top of the timetables through all sessions leading up to Qualifying, when some unusal tactic mistakes – coupled with unsatisfactory slipstreaming down the 1,1 km straight – resulted in 4th on the Grid going into Race 1. However, as it mattered the most the Swedish driver made a close to perfect start to hunt leader Pekka Saarinen down, eventually overtaking the two-times AFR Champion – twice! Heading comfortably towards victory, Rosenqvist became the first Swedish driver ever to win a race in the highly competetive series.
Race 2 saw Rosenqvist sprint away from the field at a rate of about half a second per lap, looking ever-impressive from Pole Position. Destiny wasn’t willing to stay neutral this time though, as a slight mistake in the final corner led second-placed Swiss Alexandre Imperatori to catch up with the Swede. A surprise move from the ART driver going into the infamous hairpin resulted in the pair colliding, but Felix remained calm enough to spin his car around and finish 3rd - despite potentially race-ending damage to both the right rear tyre and aerodynamic bodywork parts. Without the collision, Rosenqvist would have ended the year 3rd in the standings; as it was, he got 4th - but won the respect of all his fellow competitors.
"To race in China is something special", Felix concludes. "But I have to say the rounds at Sepang in Malaysia were the most decisive in my development as a driver. With the confidence I gained there, I was able to run at the front more easliy and my driving got much more consistent. Regarding the future, I believe another season in the Asian Formula Renault Championship is the prefered choice – and then, I’ll go all out for victory".