It's been almost one month since the 2010 German Formula 3 championship curtain-raiser at Oschersleben - a curtain-raiser which left Felix Rosenqvist with a feeling of what could have been after being haunted by bad luck all through the event. This weekend sees the next round of the championship take place at the Sachsenring circuit outside of Leipzig - and it's time to find out what the balance of power is really like...
Felix Rosenqvist ran into trouble already before the start of initial pre-event testing at the season opener, as the engine in his Performance Racing car refused to start and forced him to sit out two hours of valuable track time. As a result, most of the weekend turned into a circle of compromises in order to claw back some of the time lost. Felix retired from his first F3 race after a collision with Brazil's Luis Derani, but then came storming through the field after a bad start in Race 2, looking certain to score his first points of the year - only for the gearbox to fail and cement what Felix himself labelled as the most challenging weekend yet in his career. A fifth in the first qualifying session of the weekend - with only a handful of installation laps behind him following all the trouble in practice - nonetheless showed that Felix and Performance Racing had the speed needed to battle it out at the front, and this weekend's Sachsenring event is an opportunity as good as any to open up the 2010 points account.
Felix's team-mate Alon Day also had a dismal start to the year. The French-Israeli had a number of off-track excursions throughout the weekend and couldn't translate his pace into points-earning results. Instead, the two Oschersleben races were won by Kevin Magnussen (Motopark Academy) and Stef Dusseldorp (Van Amersfoort Racing), with Magnussen heading the championship standings on 18 points after finishing second in the race he didn't win. With a potential full 24 points on offer for a successful driver at every round, however, things may well quickly change.
Jimmy Eriksson, who up until now was the only other Swede in the championship beside Felix, spent last weekend in practice mode with a guest drive at the F3 Euro Series meeting at Hockenheim together with ATS Formula 3 Cup colleagues Luís Sá Silva and Sandro Zeller. Felix and Eriksson, though, will be joined on the grid by a third Swedish driver from Sachsenring onwards, as Philip Forsman has secured a deal with Luxembourg team Racing Experience. Forsman was originally set to join HS Technik at Oschersleben, but that arrangement eventually fell through. The 21-year-old was one of the drivers in the Swedish Formula Renault championship which Felix won last year, and his participation means that - for the first time in years - Sweden will have three drivers racing together at the same time in an international single-seater series. Furthermore, all three of them are part (and constitute 50 %) of the Swedish national motor racing team.
In order to freshen up the memory when it comes to the ATS Formula 3 Cup points system, the winner of each race receives 10 points, with 8 for second, 6 for third etc. (view the entire scale here). A driver putting his car on Pole Position or setting the fastest race lap is awarded an additional point. Each race weekend consists of free practice, two qualifying sessions and two races, taking the maximum achievable number of points per meeting to 24 (10+10 for victory, 1+1 for Pole Position and 1+1 for fastest race lap).
The opening round at Oschersleben gave us a hint - an indication - of what to expect from the rest of the season, but it's really only at Sachsenring (another new circuit for Felix) this weekend that we will find out who has reacted better to the events of the first races. For Felix Rosenqvist and Performance Racing, the focus will be on maximizing the time available during testing and practice to make sure there is no repeat of the Oschersleben jinx - and just as there, the competition will be fierce. As usual, you can follow all the weekend's action at www.felixracing.se.
NOTE: There will be no LIVE commentary from Sachsenring, but the Felix Racing LIVE Report service - which was introduced for the first time during the Oschersleben weekend - will return at the following round of the championship at Hockenheim.
ATS Formula 3 Cup - Sachsenring