This weekend, the ATS Formula 3 Cup championship sets camp at a truly legendary motor racing venue; Hockenheim. The circuit has hosted the German Formula 1 Grand Prix on and off since 1970, and was initially famed and feared for its exceptionally long straights which offered fans and drivers alike some spectacular – yet sometimes dangerous – racing in the forests surrounding the village of Heidelberg. In 2002, the circuit was shortened and brought up to more modern standards, but the atmosphere in the unaltered stadium complex at the end of the lap – the so-called Motodrom – remains vibrant and unchanged. Felix Rosenqvist arrives at the third round of the year on the back of his first F3 podium at Sachsenring last time out, and can take added comfort from having set the fastest time in pre-season testing at Hockenheim.
Felix showed that he and his Performance Racing team are able to compete at the front after qualifying in second and third respectively for the two races at Sachsenring. Following his Race 1 podium, however, Felix had to retire from the second race after crashing out when following a competitor a bit too closely on the opening lap. Team-mate Alon Day has had a tougher start to the season overall than Felix, but Day was also quick in Hockenheim testing this winter and will be looking to prove his real worth – and score his first points of the year in the process.
Denmark's Kevin Magnussen (Motopark Academy) prepared for his continued ATS Formula 3 Cup commitments by making his debut in what has been regarded as probably the best F3 championship of later years – the Formula 3 Euro Series – in Valencia last weekend. Magnussen (the son of former F1 driver Jan Magnussen and one of the protégés of the McLaren Driver Development Programme) managed to win the second race of the meeting by a margin of more than 10 seconds, which has led many to seriously appreciate the German series as one of the very best in the world at the moment. The other Motopark Academy drivers – who include Luis Derani, Rene Binder and Jimmy Eriksson – will be trying to steal the headlines from their Danish team-mate this weekend, and Eriksson in particular knows his way around Hockenheim after having contested an F3 Euro Series round of his own here a few weeks ago.
Championship leader Tom Dillmann is again set to do battle with HS Technik, who have expressed plans to run a possible second car this weekend. Who might be considered for the drive remains unknown, but Dillmann is the most experienced F3 driver on the grid and will likely be able to give the team the tools they need for another successful weekend.
Van Amersfoort Racing's Stef Dusseldorp has perhaps not had as smooth a start to the season as he would have liked. The Dutchman, who finished as runner-up in the championship in 2009, was beaten by Felix in a memorable battle for second in Race 1 at Sachsenring, and finished a lowly 17th in the final race of the weekend after being struck by problems. The 20-year-old is currently in fourth place in the overall standings. Dusseldorp's team-mate Daniel Abt is one of three rookies to have finished on the podium this year (the others being Felix and Magnussen), while Willi Steindl (Austria) has also shown flashes of serious speed – even though he hasn't quite been able to match his Van Amersfoort Racing colleagues.
Unlike the normal scenario, ATS Formula 3 Cup will not be the only F3 series on the programme this time around, as the British championship joins the action at Hockenheim. Both series sport large fields and will combine to a fascinating F3 weekend, although any straight comparisons between the two will be difficult to execute as the German championship uses slightly older chassis than its British equivalent. It is worth noting that the two series will not be sharing the circuit at any time, but will be racing independently of each other.
As usual, two races are set to be run this weekend. Before the event officially kicks off on Friday, teams and drivers will gather for a full-day test at the circuit on Thursday. Felix Racing will cover everything that happens at Hockenheim over the weekend, with our LIVE commentary service providing you with all the latest news and minute-by-minute updates on Felix's progress.
ATS Formula 3 Cup - Hockenheim