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Q&A: 2012 preview
Felix on the new car, the European Championship and on never giving up

2011 was a year to remember for Felix Rosenqvist. Victory in the Masters of Formula 3, victory at the Formula 3 Euro Series finale and a full ten podium finishes during a memorable debut campaign in one of the toughest junior single-seater championships on the globe. While winter testing has continued along the same positive lines, Felix is well aware that 2012 will provide a brand new set of challenges - and difficult ones, at that.

With the introduction of a new chassis, the revival of the European Formula 3 Championship and the customary fierce competition at the sharp end of the field, there is plenty to talk about as the Hockenheim season-opener edges closer and closer...

 

Mattias Persson: Felix, with just one week to go until the 2012 curtain-raiser, you are heading into your second season in Formula 3 Euro Series. What were the major lessons you learned about the championship last year?

Felix Rosenqvist: I learned a lot about the importance of never giving up, even if you have a few bad races. It's a long championship and by the end of it, everyone will have had their ups and downs. I also learned to take one race at a time and not to take anything for granted. A good example of that is the first visit we made to Hockenheim, when I was fast enough for third to fifth place. Six months later, when we got back to the same circuit for the finale, I was quickest. It's vital to keep developing and try to learn new things from a pure driving point of view - and you have to do that all the time. It's relentless, but that's what it takes to win.

 

Mattias Persson: Winter testing has obviously been promising for you, topping the official sessions at both Valencia and Barcelona. What is your target for 2012?

Felix Rosenqvist: Testing actually worked out surprisingly well; we pretty much steered clear of any problems, and didn't have a single off-track moment or technical issue whatsoever. I obviously aim to fight for the title considering it's my second year in the championship, and taking into account the ten podium finishes I had in 2011.

 

Mattias Persson: Dallara has introduced a new car for this year - the F312 - and Formula 3 Euro Series has signed a deal with Hankook Tire as its new tyre supplier. What do these changes mean to you as a driver? Will all the new features require an adapted driving style?

Felix Rosenqvist: A new car is always a challenge for the teams and drivers, even though it's not too different from the old one. You have to gather a lot of new data and also make the occasional gamble due to the highly limited amounts of testing we can do. A new tyre supplier always requires you to adapt your driving to new levels of grip etc., and I think that will be the single biggest challenge for this year. Last season, I managed to understand the tyres very well by the end of the campaign, and I hope to be able to do the same from the word "go" this year - even if the Hankook tyres are very different from the Kumhos we used in 2011.

 

Mattias Persson: It has been said that the new chassis is technically more in line with a modern Formula 1 car. Is there any potential area where the F312 is particularly different from its predecessor?

Felix Rosenqvist: The car looks rather different, but it feels more or less the same to drive. I have driven the F305, F308 and now the F312, and I'd like to think they are all pretty similar. The most notable changes appear on the front of the chassis; the nose is considerably higher, the front wing is bigger and more efficient, the suspension internals are mounted inside the monocoque and the springs have been replaced by a torsion bar.

 

Mattias Persson: The Formula 3 Euro Series entry list once again looks extremely competitive. Five of the major international talent development programmes - those from Mercedes, McLaren, Ferrari, Red Bull and ADAC – have all chosen to place their protégés in the series for 2012, and rivalry in the revived FIA European Formula 3 Championship is set to be at least as tough. Who do you view as your main rivals for this year?

Felix Rosenqvist: I think it will be extremely competitive this year, which testing also seemed to indicate - there wasn't a lot between us. Daniel Juncadella took third overall last year and will embark on his third season in the championship, so he is definitely the biggest threat. Raffaele Marciello and Pascal Wehrlein were very quick in testing and I definitely think they will feature at the front as well. Carlos Sainz Jr. impressed when he made a guest appearance at the Hockenheim finale last year and has already begun racing in the British championship this year, which he leads, so it will be interesting to see how he and the Carlin team do.

 

Mattias Persson: You mentioned Pascal Wehrlein – the reigning ADAC Formel Masters champion and your team-mate at Mücke Motorsport this year. How have you been getting along thus far?

Felix Rosenqvist: It's been perfectly fine. We have been relatively equally matched during the pre-season. He seems to be very consistent and is always there or thereabouts come wet or dry. I hope that we can learn a lot from each other.

 

Mattias Persson: The winter has also seen you enter into collaboration with British sports and fitness institute Pro Performance. At what level, physically, do you find yourself today compared to one year ago?

Felix Rosenqvist: I feel so much stronger than last year. I have gained some weight thanks to quite a lot of training in the gym, but it's all "good weight" and won't hamper me. Most importantly, I've learned a lot about nutrition, which is just as important as training itself - particularly over the race weekends!

 

Mattias Persson: The opening round of the season, as we've said, takes place at Hockenheim – a track that has always been a little bit special for you. That's where you claimed your maiden Formula 3 Euro Series win last year, and you also hold the all-time F3 lap record there. Does your history at Hockenheim mean that you are a little bit extra excited?

Felix Rosenqvist: I have always had a special relationship to Hockenheim, with all those nice memories it has given me! That both the opening and the final round of the season takes place there is somewhat of a bonus since I do find my way around the place, but it's nothing that creates any added pressure at all.

 

Mattias Persson: How does it feel to double up with both Formula 3 Euro Series and the FIA European Formula 3 Championship this year? Most of the FIA races are run in conjunction with Formula 3 Euro Series events over the DTM weekends, of course, but it still looks set to be an intense season…

Felix Rosenqvist: It will be extra intense, and even more important to remain mentally cool. There are quite a few new circuits for me this year; I've never been to Brands Hatch or Pau before, and I've only driven once at Spa - and that was in Formula Renault. We will also be forced to use other tyres than those we run on in Formula 3 Euro Series at some of the European Championship races, which obviously make things even more complicated. Definitely a challenge - but also a lot of fun!

 

Mattias Persson: What's more important - Formula 3 Euro Series or the FIA European Formula 3 Championship?

Felix Rosenqvist: My plan is to focus on Formula 3 Euro Series, and if that goes well then the same is likely to be true for the European Championship. After all, 80 % of the European Championship races are run during Formula 3 Euro Series events, so the most logical thing would be to focus on them. The European Championship, however, is still very attractive, with the winner receiving that test in Formula 1.

 

Mattias Persson: This year's calendar – and I'm thinking about both Formula 3 Euro Series and the FIA European Formula 3 Championship – offers an interesting mixture of super-modern Grand Prix venues and tight, confined street circuits spread out over Europe. Is there any of the tracks you particularly look forward to?

Felix Rosenqvist: Hockenheim is always a favourite, like we've said. Zandvoort is a circuit where I have never missed out on a podium, and I will try to make this year no exception when it comes to that! I'm also looking forward to racing an F3 car in the forests of Spa, which most F1 drivers hail as the best circuit in the world.

 

Mattias Persson: Best of luck!

Felix Rosenqvist: Thank you!























































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