Hockenheim - a name that breathes of history, and the scene of the second Formula 3 Euro Series round of the season. Felix Rosenqvist heads to the classic German Grand Prix venue on the back of his emphatic podium in the Paul Ricard curtain-raiser four weeks ago, and does so as a more complete driver one year on from having qualified on the front row here in German Formula 3 last season.
Felix's second place in the opening race of the season came as good confirmation that all the hard work carried out over the winter has paid off. Having overtaken experienced F3 campaigner Roberto Merhi, Daniel Juncadella and 2010 Macau Grand Prix runner-up Laurens Vanthoor, Felix joined team-mate Nigel Melker onto the podium to celebrate the first Mücke Motorsport 1-2 of the year. Fourth place in the considerably shorter Race 2 saw the positive trend continue, before a drive shaft failure forced the Swede to retire from Race 3.
"We had a good, solid start to the season," Felix said following the Paul Ricard event. "I learned how to adapt my driving in order to make the tyres last for as long as possible, and I think we could have done even better if it wouldn’t have been for some small problems which become very costly at this level. We couldn't quite get the best out of qualifying, but I have an idea on how we might solve that and I think we will be stronger there in the future."
This weekend's Hockenheim round is the first this year to be run in conjunction with the immensely popular DTM championship, as the Touring Car series springs into life for its 2011 premiere. As the most coveted F3 championship in the world, the battle for Formula 3 Euro Series glory sits high on the priority list at engine suppliers Mercedes and Volkswagen, who are both also represented in the DTM (in Volkswagen's case through the Audi brand). Furthermore, with the Hockenheim circuit being located just some 100 kilometres from the Mercedes headquarters in Stuttgart, the events of this weekend will be of further significance to the German car manufacturer and the four Silver Arrows drivers - including Felix - will be going all out to deliver the same sort of results that made the three-pronged star shine bright at Paul Ricard.
With three of this year's 27 races out of the way, Felix currently holds fifth place in the overall standings - 23 points behind championship leader Juncadella (Prema Powerteam). The two 40-minute feature races at each meeting (Races 1 and 3) offer some generous rewards with 25 points to the winner, while the reverse-grid (top eight) 20-minute sprint of Race 2 (where less points are on stake) tests a driver's ability to find his way through traffic from further down the field. Add a qualifying system that demands raw speed as well as bullet proof consistency, and it's easy to understand why Formula 3 Euro Series is regarded to be of such educational value.
For Felix, Hockenheim represents a lot of mixed emotions. This is where he was heading for his first-ever F3 victory last year, before being hit by Daniel Abt (who has also stepped up to Formula 3 Euro Series this year) and sent crashing into retirement. Despite Hockenheim being the venue where Felix truly established himself as one of the top drivers in the German championship, results kept eluding him due to agonising misfortune, and the desire to overcome the jinx of 2010 will be bubbling this weekend.
In order to further boost the profile of Formula 3 racing, governing body the FIA has spent the winter laying the foundations for a brand new championship; the FIA Formula 3 International Trophy. Open to drivers from all the major F3 series in the world, the scheme contains the most important events on the world-wide calendar and will be thrown into the spotlight as this weekend's races become the first to ever be included in the championship. The FIA Formula 3 International Trophy features an entirely separate points structure, and does not affect the outcome of Formula 3 Euro Series in any way. Organisers have not yet been able to confirm the exact number of total participants for this weekend.
As always, Felix Racing will be with you every step of the way, with our LIVE commentary service at www.felixracing.se once again covering all the excitement from Friday qualifying onwards. New for Hockenheim, you can now also follow Felix on Facebook, where additional information will be made available over the weekend - straight from the heat of the action.
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Formula 3 Euro Series - Hockenheim
TIMETABLE (local time - GMT+02:00)
FP: 09.45-11.50 (60 min - 5 min pause - 60 min)