Length: 2.769 km
F3 lap record: 1m11.228s (Marco Wittmann, 2011)
Circuit map: click here
Geographic position: click here
Two weeks on from the 2012 season-opener at the fast and spacious Hockenheim circuit, this weekend will provide the European Formula 3 fraternity with a very different challenge; the tight confines of Pau in southern France. Situated close to the Spanish border, this picturesque town is sometimes wrongly acknowledged to have hosted the first-ever automobile "Grand Prix" - a terminology nowadays very much associated with Formula 1 - but even though that feat is more correctly attributed to a race at Le Mans in 1906, the "Grand Prix de Pau" has still firmly established itself as one of the true classics since its inception in 1933.
Much like its Macau (F3) or Monaco (F1) siblings, the street circuit of Pau is considered to be a genuine challenge for even the most complete of drivers. The list of winners doesn't only cast light on the sheer tradition of the event - it also proves that only the best are able to fully master the gambling of racing through the city centre at over 200 km/h. World champions including Juan Manuel Fangio, Alberto Ascari, Jim Clark and Lewis Hamilton are among those to have climbed atop the Pau podium, and this weekend's races are part of the FIA European Formula 3 Championship (where Felix will be participating) and the British F3 Series.
With Armco barriers lining the entire length of the lap, the Pau circuit resembles the majority of other street venues in that it leaves absolutely minimal room for mistakes. Overtaking is almost impossible to conduct, and the only realistic spot to make up a position is under braking for Turn 1 - but even there, the risks are abundant.
Pau is also home to one of the most dramatic sequences of corners on the entire calendar; Virage Foch. With cars bouncing spectacularly as drivers use the edge of a roundabout to cut the corner on entry - and the kerb of a sidewalk to straighten it out on exit - Virage Foch requires massive dedication and an efficient suspension set-up. This part of the lap has been the scene of many accidents over the years; just ask Augusto Farfus after this World Touring Car Championship crash in 2007: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svHjjio1670.
Sitting scenically just north of the Pyrenees, Pau enjoys a mild, Mediterranean climate. Temperatures for the weekend are expected to fluctuate around 20-30 degrees Celsius, but there is an overhanging risk of rain on Saturday - when qualifying is scheduled to take place.
Click here for a detailed weather forecast
"It will be interesting to go to Pau for the first time this weekend - it seems to be a very special track. I've done quite a few street races by now, and it truly is one of the real sensations of single-seater racing; I just love Macau, for example. Grand Prix de Pau is a classic event, and as usual when it comes to street venues, any mistake will be twice as costly as at a regular circuit. Overtaking will be virtually impossible - more difficult than in Macau - and with 25 cars on the grid, qualifying will be vital. I always head into a race weekend with the aim of doing the best job I can, but it is difficult to know what we can expect from Pau given that we are forced to run on different tyres than we would normally do. It will definitely be a big challenge - both for myself and for the team - but certainly one that we are all looking forward to!"
Time schedule (all times local)
Friday (11 May)
Free Practice 1: 10.40-11.25
Free Practice 2: 15.30-16.15
Saturday (12 May)
Race 1: 14.25-14.55
Sunday (13 May)
Race 2: 14.00-14.40
How it works
This weekend's races count exclusively towards the FIA European Formula 3 Championship. The event is not included on the Formula 3 Euro Series calendar, but the FIA European F3 Championship drivers will be joined on-track by the full field of cars from the British F3 Series.
In order to reduce traffic on the short and winding circuit, the grid will be split into two groups for qualifying on Saturday - with each group getting just 15 minutes of track time. Race 1 will then be run over 30 minutes, and Race 2 over 40. Both events will have equal championship status, with the winner of either race receiving 25 points.
An important factor ahead of this weekend is the fact that FIA European F3 Championship drivers will have to race on tyres from the Cooper Tire company instead of the regular rubber normally delivered by Hankook. This is because Cooper Tire is the official British F3 supplier, and - with Grand Prix de Pau part of the otherwise UK-based championship - regulatory and logistic considerations mean that the FIA European F3 Championship field will have to adapt accordingly. From a pure sporting point of view, it is believed that this will hand the British F3 regulars an early advantage.
The full 2012 calendar and points system can be viewed here.
Preliminary entry list
*FIA European Formula 3 Championship
Car numbers 1-27 and 36-77 will only be eligible for points in the British Formula 3 Series.
HOW TO FOLLOW FELIX THIS WEEKEND
As always, www.felixracing.se will be fully updated throughout the weekend, with reports from each of the sessions that take place. The website is the central information hub for everything that goes on both on and off the track, and will also feature other relevant news, pictures and videos.
As this weekend's races do not count towards Formula 3 Euro Series, there will be no live TV streaming at www.f3euroseries.com. Both races, however, will be shown LIVE by dedicated international broadcaster Motors TV.
TV broadcasting times (all times local)
Saturday (12 May)
Race 1: 14.10 | Motors TV (LIVE)
Sunday (13 May)
Race 2: 13.45 | Motors TV (LIVE)
The interaction with fans and followers will principally involve Felix Racing's official Facebook Fan Page (link below), where supporters can discuss all the goings-on and post potential questions to Felix.