TT Circuit Assen holds a special place in Felix Rosenqvist's memory. It was here, at the Dutch venue outside of Groningen, where the Performance Racing driver claimed his first-ever Formula 3 victory just some three weeks ago - and as the Swede returns to the scene of his maiden triumph this weekend, he does so on the back of a further two podiums from the last round at the Nürburgring. The troubled start to the season has transformed into a flourishing series of results which have made Felix the highest-scoring driver of all over the last two events, setting the F3 rookie up for a close battle for third in the standings as the ATS Formula 3 Cup rolls into Assen for the second time this year.
With four consecutive podiums behind them ahead of this weekend, Felix and Performance Racing have really bounced back from the disappointment of the first three championship rounds. Formula 3, however, is not a place for contemplation and satisfaction - and after a faulty gear lever almost cost him second place in the first race at the Nürburgring, Felix knows better than most that the line between joy and disaster is indeed very thin. Team-mate Alon Day has also shown promising form lately and was quick at the previous Assen round, where he finished in fourth - his best result of the year so far - in the same race that Felix won. Having scored 34 out of a maximum possible 44 points over the last two race weekends, Felix has edged ever-closer to the drivers ahead of him in the championship standings and now trails third-placed Kevin Magnussen (Motopark Academy) by just five points.
Nürburgring specialist Tom Dillmann won both races in the German Eifel mountains last time out, snatching the overall ATS Formula 3 Cup series lead in the process as Van Amersfoort Racing's Daniel Abt first collided with team-mate Stef Dusseldorp at the start of Race 1 and was then overtaken by Felix in the second race. Dillmann didn't enjoy the easiest of weekends at Assen last month, though, when he couldn't quite keep up with the very best. The Frenchman's experience and race craft, however, nonetheless make him one of the major pre-event favourites once again.
Dutch squad Van Amersfoort Racing return to their home arena following a challenging time at the Nürburgring. The reigning ATS Formula 3 Cup champions had to settle for third place behind Dillmann and Felix in both the weekend's races (first thanks to Willi Steindl, and then courtesy of Abt), but will take comfort from knowing that their considerable amount of data telemetry from Assen is matched by few. Abt actually managed to duplicate Felix's effort and take his own first F3 victory here in July, when the German won the second race of the weekend and emphasised the difficulty of overtaking at the narrow circuit when he held off a charging Felix in the beginning of the race. Local driver Stef Dusseldorp, meanwhile, will be looking to better his record from the championship's previous visit to the Netherlands, when he finished in third place twice - not least after having missed out on the podium completely at the Nürburgring.
Even though Kevin Magnussen's shining start to the season does ensure that the Dane still remains in third overall in the championship, his Motopark Academy team have fallen behind their competitors at the front of the field in later races. Magnussen is the only of the team's drivers to have finished on the podium in 2010, but was beaten by one of his team-mates for the first time this year as Jimmy Eriksson out-shone him in qualifying for Race 1 at the Nürburgring. Magnussen later retired from the first race, while Austrian Rene Binder ran home with Motopark Academy's best result of the weekend after surviving a chaotic opening lap; fourth. 15 points in total between the team's four drivers over the last two rounds, however, is far from Team Principal Timo Rumpfkeil's expectations ahead of the season.
This weekend's races (rounds 11 and 12 of the 2010 championship) are run as part of the "Rizla Racing Day" concept, an annual event organised mainly to celebrate TT Circuit Assen's 85-year motorcycling heritage. The ATS Formula 3 Cup will not be the only car racing category on the programme, though, as both Formula Renault NEC and the CIK-FIA European Superkart Championship join the F3 cars together with a few national series. Weather forecasts currently speak of a 20-40 percent risk of rain.
As per normal, two races will take place this weekend - but it is worth noting that both qualifying sessions are scheduled for Friday as a means of optimising a tight time schedule. All information from the circuit, including Felix Racing's own LIVE commentary service from both qualifying and the races, will be available at www.felixracing.se during the weekend.
ATS Formula 3 Cup - Assen (Rizla Racing Day)