Just a few days after Felix Rosenqvist claimed his first-ever Formula 3 victory at Assen, it's time for the ATS Formula 3 Cup championship to set camp at perhaps the most famous motor racing venue in the world - the Nürburgring, majestically situated in the German Eifel mountains. The legend of the old, 22 km Nordschleife - or "The Green Hell" as triple Formula 1 World Champion Jackie Stewart once put it - continues to fascinate an entire world of motorsport enthusiasts, and although the classic version is still used for endurance racing and tourist driving, it's the safer Grand Prix circuit that has given the Nürburgring its modern face.
The ATS Formula 3 Cup, Germany's fastest single-seater series, visits the Nürburgring twice this season - but races on different circuit configurations each time. This weekend sees the 3.6 km "Sprint Circuit" host activities, while the full-length Formula 1 Grand Prix circuit will greet the drivers at their next visit here in August. Felix and Performance Racing will be full of confidence going into the event following the success of Assen last weekend, where Felix won the first race from fourth on the grid and then finished second in Race 2 after challenging eventual winner Daniel Abt (son of DTM team principal Hans-Jürgen Abt) and coming close to overtaking the Van Amersfoort Racing driver. The victory, combined with his second place, meant Felix climbed to fifth in the championship standings and scored more points in one weekend than he had done in all three previous rounds together.
"It goes without saying that I’m very happy to have taken my first victory in such an important category of racing as Formula 3," Felix said when reflecting on the weekend at Assen. "Hopefully, this was the turning point of our season following all the bad luck we have had in the beginning of the year, and it feels particularly nice to have given Performance Racing their first-ever win - they have been working hard to experience this day, and they deserve a big thank you."
Performance Racing had an emotional time at Assen. Not only did the outfit celebrate its first Formula 3 victory after three years of persistent trying in the ATS Formula 3 Cup and ten years in total in the category, but they also managed to secure their best-ever overall result when Alon Day finished in fourth behind Felix, Abt and Stef Dusseldorp in Race 1.
"We are extremely happy and proud to have finally won our first race in this tough championship," team boss Bobby Issazadhe said. "We have been trying to get here for years and did come very close on a number of occasions, but Felix has given proof to everyone that we certainly do belong in the top. This success will undoubtedly boost team morale, and we do not intend to wait another three years for our next victory!"
Reigning champions Van Amersfoort Racing also joined the battle at the front in Assen, with Abt winning (he too, like Felix, for the first time in Formula 3) the second race of the weekend and home favourite Dusseldorp ending up in third in both rounds. The Dutch team finished on the podium in all four races at the Nürburgring last season, and will surely mix it with the best again this weekend.
As a four-year Formula 3 veteran and former F3 Euro Series front-runner, Tom Dillmann was one of the real pre-season favourites going into the 2010 campaign. The 21-year-old from Mulhouse didn't have the easiest of weekends at Assen though, and failed to make the podium in either of the two races. The HS Technik driver, who has dovetailed his commitments in the German championship with outings in Italian F3 this year, thereby lost his lead in the overall standings to Abt - but will be aiming for revenge at the Nürburgring.
Motopark Academy came to Assen needing some decent results, but despite experimenting with a radical new front wing during the weekend, speed just wouldn't really come their way. Kevin Magnussen, currently the squad's best-placed driver in the championship, lacked almost a full second per lap in comparison with the front-runners and the search for performance looks set to continue. Jimmy Eriksson, the other Swede in the series, finished just outside the points in 10th and 11th respectively in the two races.
Weather is a frequent point of interest for everyone within motorsport, but never more so than at the Nürburgring. The towering Eifel mountains are a reliable recipe for unstable conditions, and regardless of what weather forecasts say, teams and drivers know that wellingtons and raincoats are essential items in their travel bags. The Nürburgring is also one of the most undulating circuits on the calendar, even though the modern layout is nothing but a shadow when compared to the old Nordschleife, which may complicate things further.
As usual, Felix Racing will report straight from the circuit, with our LIVE commentary service at www.felixracing.se providing you with instant information from both qualifying sessions and the races.
ATS Formula 3 Cup - Nürburgring (Sprint Circuit)