Few racing circuits – if any – are steeped in the same indisputable tradition as the Nürburgring. Seamlessly located among the hills and valleys of the German Eifel mountains, the legendary Grand Prix venue is considered one of the world's top motorsport arenas – and despite the modern incarnation fading in comparison with the 20 km Nordschleife constructed back in 1927, there are no doubts that Felix Rosenqvist and his Formula 3 Euro Series rivals will take to truly illustrious grounds for the sixth round of the season this weekend.
In spite of a one-month break since the previous round of the championship at Nuremberg's Norisring street circuit, Felix has found himself with an intense schedule during the build-up to the Nürburgring races. A visit to the DTM Show Event at Munich's Olympic Stadium – where he represented Mercedes' F3 programme – was followed by a strong day of testing at a rain-drenched EuroSpeedway Lausitz, providing Felix and his Mücke Motorsport team-mate Nigel Melker with some valuable extra experience of conditions which, ironically, often play a central part in the infamous micro climate that is the Nürburgring.
In order to stay in shape throughout a part of the season when the gap between races is extensive, Felix spent last week working on his fitness in the mountainous region of Åre in rural Sweden. A range of physical activities were undertaken, including hiking, swimming and mountain biking, and preparations for the job ahead – according to Felix himself – could not have gone better.
"I feel completely refreshed and am highly, highly motivated to get back behind the wheel of a racing car – I honestly can't wait for this weekend's action to get underway," Felix says. "The last two rounds in Austria and Nuremberg have been less than perfect for us from a results point of view, but the Nürburgring is one of my absolute favourite circuits and I hope we can turn the tide here. One of the lessons I have learned this year is that nothing comes without effort at this level of motor racing, and there is absolutely no doubt that we will have to work hard if we are to haul ourselves back onto the podium – even though, on the back of the pace we have had in the first part of the season, that definitely has to be our target."
The Nürburgring round, like many of the preceding events of 2011, will see Formula 3 Euro Series join the ranks of the DTM support programme. The track layout in use will be the 3.629 km Sprint Circuit, which shortcuts the full Formula 1 configuration shortly after the Mercedes Arena and leaves out the Ford and Dunlop corners at the far end of the lap. Last year's German ATS Formula 3 Cup round at the Nürburgring Sprint Circuit saw Felix qualify less than one tenth from Pole Position, before going on to finish on the podium in both the two races contested.
Championship leader Roberto Merhi arrives at the Nürburgring fresh from having dominated the FIA Formula 3 International Trophy event at Spa-Francorchamps last weekend. The "world cup" races were part of the British F3 series' visit to the Belgian circuit, which meant that all entrants had to run on the brand of tyres used in Britain – and not on the Kumho rubber provided in Formula 3 Euro Series. That didn't stop Merhi and his regular pan-European rivals to set the pace and prove their competitiveness on the international single-seater stage, however, as the Spaniard leapt away with Pole Position and victory in two out of the weekend total of three races. Meanwhile, fellow Prema Powerteam runner Daniel Juncadella wound up third in Race 2, while Marco Wittmann fared best of the Signature drivers with second behind Merhi in Race 3.
Mücke Motorsport might have chosen not to contest the FIA Formula 3 International Trophy campaign this year, but the outfit still travels to the Nürburgring well prepared following their GP3 commitments at the venue just two weeks ago. A spirited drive from Melker (who dovetails the F3 and GP3 championships) in drying conditions in the final race of the weekend saw the Dutchman set the fastest lap on his way to third place, and the Berlin squad will be aiming to carry a similar form into the up-coming Formula 3 event.
Weather forecasts for the weekend – surprise, surprise – speak of a considerable risk of rain, although the majority of the action currently looks set to take place under clear skies. As usual, Friday's qualifying session and each and every minute of the weekend's three races will be described through LIVE commentary here at www.felixracing.se, which will also feature additional information – including picture galleries and all the latest results – to bring you as close as possible to the Eifel excitement.
Formula 3 Euro Series - Nürburgring
TIMETABLE (local time - GMT+02:00)
FP: 09.50-11.55 (60 min - 5 min pause - 60 min)
Calendar and championship points structure
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The allocation of starting grid positions:
Race 1: Second-fastest lap from qualifying.
Race 2: Based on Race 1 results. Top eight drivers reversed for Race 2 grid.
Race 3: Outright fastest lap from qualifying.