The 2011 season is over for Felix Rosenqvist, who can look back on a year which has seen him establish himself at the top of international Formula 3 racing.
"2011 has been a very good year, and I have been able to understand what it takes to fight at the front on a high level," Felix says. "There are always some unknowns when you enter a new championship, but my philosophy has always been that it's better to face the best early on in your career rather than waiting for it to happen at a later stage. That's why the step to Formula 3 Euro Series was very important for me, and it has shaped me into a much-improved driver."
Although the Formula 3 world finals in Macau last weekend didn't go according to plan, Felix is confident that the outcome in the Asian street classic does not defame an otherwise strong campaign.
"What happened in Macau is exactly the sort of thing you have to put behind you and move on from. I was penalised and forced to start the Qualification Race from the back of the grid, and after such a setback there really isn't much to do when the competition is as strong as it was this year. Daniel Juncadella won the race having qualified 14th on the grid. I qualified eighth with a lap which - in all honesty - I wasn't very happy with, and it only goes to show that you're in the hunt for victory as long as you manage to stay away from penalties and problems. Macau is such a special place that you just have to accept that things don't always turn out the way you'd hoped for - and there were only 13 finishers out of the 30 people who entered the event. There were a lot of disappointed faces..."
Felix admits that he could have done a better job himself over the Macau weekend, but also thinks that the experience has made him a more complete driver.
"Circumstances weren't ideal, and from the back of the grid I got stuck behind people who were several seconds per lap slower but still hard to line up on the straights - and that was despite our car also being very efficient in a straight line. I stalled at the start of the finale and crashed into retirement in the mountains, so it definitely wasn't one of my better races. On the other hand, I learned a great deal about the mental side of the sport, and about how to handle the disappointment when just about everything that can go wrong actually does."
In what some might consider a somewhat surprising move, Felix rejects his RTL GP Masters of Formula 3 victory as the highlight of the season - despite joining the same list of winners as David Coulthard and Lewis Hamilton when he made history by becoming the first Swede ever to win the famous event at Zandvoort back in August.
"The Masters win was obviously the highlight for everyone on the outside, as well as for the team and for Mercedes," Felix explains. "That was the big success, but personally, I rate the Formula 3 Euro Series finale at Hockenheim even higher. I have never had a car which has felt as strong as it did then, and we were given some very encouraging answers as to just how competitive we are when circumstances hand us the opportunity. I really don't want this to come across as any form of bragging, but I actually think I was the quickest driver out there that weekend. It felt fantastic to leave with one victory - which could have been more if I'd only had one tiny thousandth of a second on my side in qualifying - and fastest lap in all three races. I was in second place right behind Roberto (Merhi) when I sat a new lap record and then crashed three seconds later. I know that we were the fastest, and that's the most important thing for me."
Going into 2012, Felix's current master plan revolves around another season in Formula 3 Euro Series.
"I'd like to remain in the championship, and the deal breaker - regardless of what we eventually decide to do - is that it continues to benefit my development as a driver," Felix says. "It is important to have a high level of competition. Formula 3 Euro Series has been the number one F3 championship since its inception in 2003, and the indications are that it will continue that way. You always have to keep the door open for other options as well, but I think we would have a realistic shot at fighting for the Formula 3 Euro Series title in 2012."
The fact that the championship introduces a new car for next year - and therefore effectively erases many of the advantages a second-year driver would normally enjoy - is of no importance to Felix.
"That's exactly how we have never reasoned, and never will reason. We might find out that the new car doesn't suit me at all, but if that was to be the case then so be it. If you want to have a career in international motorsport, I think it's essential to be able to find your feet in any car - and Formula 3 is probably the most educational single-seater category on the road to Formula 1."
Felix concludes by aiming a special thought at all those who have followed his progress in 2011.
"I am lucky enough to have an astounding group of fans and supporters, and I really want to thank them for all their support throughout the year - and every previous year. It means so much to me, and I hope I've been able to provide some happy on-track moments!"