The dust has barely settled after last weekend's Formula 3 Euro Series round at the Nürburgring before the F3 fraternity turns its attention towards one of the absolute highlights on the junior single-seater calendar; the RTL GP Masters of Formula 3 at Zandvoort. The annual event, which pins drivers from across the major European F3 championships against each other, is regarded as one of the two most important Formula 3 races of the season next to the Macau Grand Prix each November – and Felix Rosenqvist's debut appearance in the Dutch classic comes under a set of highly interesting conditions.
With the exception of 2007 and 2008, when the race was moved to Zolder in Belgium amid noise deliberations, Circuit Park Zandvoort has hosted the Masters of Formula 3 every year since a certain David Coulthard won the inaugural event back in 1991. In years gone past, a long line of F1 drivers have taken to the grid, including Rubens Barrichello, Mark Webber, Paul di Resta, Nick Heidfeld and Lewis Hamilton.
As far as Felix is concerned, the Masters debut coincides with the Swede's return to the scene of possibly the most imposing performance so far in his career. Having been one of the pacesetters all weekend, Felix managed to produce a podium clean-sweep on his first-ever outing on the undulating shoreline circuit when Formula 3 Euro Series raced here in May, but the Mücke Motorsport driver knows that success is never guaranteed in the competition of international motor racing – despite adding another two podiums to his tally at the Nürburgring last Saturday.
"I can hardly believe that I will actually take part in such a classic event as the RTL GP Masters of Formula 3," Felix says. "It is one of the most important races of the season, and I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity. The competition will be more or less just as fierce as in Macau, but our pace at Zandvoort last time out really makes me optimistic going into the weekend. There will definitely be some very close racing once we get underway on Sunday."
Joining the full line-up from Formula 3 Euro Series (barring Gianmarco Raimondo and Kuba Giermaziak) this weekend will be a group of front-running drivers from the British championship. The Carlin squad will lead the British armada, having entered no less than five cars - one of which will be driven by Felix's rival from the German ATS Formula 3 Cup last year, Denmark's Kevin Magnussen. Carlin is also set to field Dallara-Volkswagens for Jazeman Jaafar, Rupert Svendsen-Cook and current championship runner-up Carlos Huertas, but is yet to confirm the identity of its fifth driver.
At Mücke Motorsport, the ordinary Formula 3 Euro Series line-up will be extended by a third car for the RTL GP Masters of Formula 3. Felix and Nigel Melker will be joined by Lucas Foresti, as the Brazilian jumps on board for a one-off with the Berlin squad this weekend.
Even though Felix and the rest of the Formula 3 Euro Series drivers do have previous experience of the Zandvoort circuit, the Masters event still represents somewhat of a step into the unknown, with tyre supplier Kumho set to deliver another type of rubber compound than that normally used on a race weekend. The new compound is designed to provide all teams and drivers with a level playing field going into the event, and means that Felix will have to adapt to a brand new set of tyre characteristics.
The RTL GP Masters of Formula 3 is also part of the FIA Formula 3 International Trophy campaign, which consists of the most important F3 races on the calendar and acts as a "world cup" for the category. Mücke Motorsport has opted not to take part in the new-for-2011 championship, which is currently led by Roberto Merhi with the Spaniard potentially on course to claim the title if things go his way this weekend. The undisputed main source of interest, however, will undoubtedly be the results of the race itself, rather than the outcome of the FIA Formula 3 International Trophy.
The schedule for the weekend ahead inevitably differs quite substantially from that of a Formula 3 Euro Series meeting. No driving will take place on Friday, with a more extensive Saturday programme instead including an hour of free practice and two afternoon qualifying sessions where drivers will go flat out in pursuit of lap time as they seek to position themselves as far up on the grid as possible for Sunday's crucial 25-lap race.
Every bit of the action will of course be covered here at www.felixracing.se throughout the weekend, with pictures, results and the latest reflections from Zandvoort hitting the web on a regular update basis. Both Saturday qualifying sessions, as well as the race on Sunday, can be followed through Felix Racing's LIVE commentary service – straight from the circuit.
RTL GP Masters of Formula 3
TIMETABLE (local time - GMT+02:00)
RACE (25 laps): 14.30
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