Mattias Persson: 2013 has been a fantastic season for you, with ten FIA Formula 3 European Championship wins and second place overall in one of the most competitive series on the junior single-seater arena. You’ve also won the Masters of Formula 3 for a second time in three years. How satisfied are you with your performance in 2013?
Felix Rosenqvist: All-in-all, it has been a very good season, but that second place in the championship is not something I'm too excited about. I went into the campaign with the aim of winning the title, and from that perspective, I didn't achieve what I wanted to. From a pure driving point of view, however, I'm satisfied with my performance, taking into account my results relative to my team-mates as well as the victories, fastest laps and new lap records.
Furthermore, I've proved that I'm able to overtake by hauling myself back into the points from last place on three different occasions. Performances like that are important if you want to make a real impact despite not winning the title - and the response I've had seems to confirm that. It's been great for my self-confidence, as well.
Mattias Persson: You have won races every year since setting out on your motor racing career, but also been hit by some bad luck and setbacks. This season, however, things seemed to run a bit more smoothly, and you were fighting for the title all the way to the finale. Do you see any particular reason for that, or is it simply down to circumstances?
Felix Rosenqvist: Success in motorsport is dependent on a range of various factors, and this year, most of them have come together. I don't actually think I've become much faster this year, but I have been able to use my experience in a better way to make the right split-second decisions and trust my gut feeling. This year, we had a car that was capable of winning races from the first round of the season, and that was probably the main difference to 2012.
Mattias Persson: 2013 saw you win a third of all the FIA Formula 3 European Championship races contested, and you became the only driver in the field to score the maximum points on offer – 75 – at two championship rounds. After a season like that, there are obviously quite a lot of highlights – but what is your own brightest memory from the campaign?
Felix Rosenqvist: The Norisring weekend - when we were initially disqualified after qualifying due to an alleged fuel sample irregularity - was very special to me. Instead of starting from last place on the grid, which we would otherwise have been forced to do, we opted to race under appeal - which meant we could take up our original starting positions, but without scoring any points as we awaited a more detailed analysis of the fuel.
That Saturday, when we were first informed about all this, was the toughest of my career. It was obviously a complete chock for everyone in the team. I finished second in both races without being allowed onto the podium and with zero points scored, and I went to bed that night feeling everything but well.
On Sunday morning, however, it all turned out to have been a mistake, and we were given back all our points from the previous day. An hour later, I won the final race of the weekend by five seconds - on a circuit I had never quite come to terms with. I also set a new lap record, and eventually went away having scored more points than anyone else. It was the first and only time I've seen Peter Mücke cry!
--- Read more about Felix's emotional Norisring experience here.
Mattias Persson: Is there anything you regret?
Felix Rosenqvist: I think both I and the team have taken largely the right decisions throughout the year. There is always the inevitable mishap, but it's probably more down to bad luck and circumstances than anything else. I don't regret a thing.
Mattias Persson: It was recently announced that one of your rivals from this season, Daniil Kvyat, will be promoted to a race seat with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Formula 1 for next year. You shared the podium with Daniil on six separate occasions this season – and you produced a great fight for the lead at the Red Bull Ring back in June. In your opinion, having raced at the same level as him, what do you think can be realistically expected from a driver who makes that step?
Felix Rosenqvist: It'll obviously be the greatest challenge of Daniil's career. Out of all my rivals this year, he is the one I rate highest on pure pace, and I know that he'll get up to speed in F1 sooner rather than later. Having said that, there will be hundreds of people putting him under real pressure, and the way he copes with that will be the ultimate test. I will follow his progress with great interest; he's a good guy, and I believe in him. Hopefully he will prove to everyone that he was a good choice!
--- Video: Felix, Kvyat and Marciello stage Red Bull Ring lap one lead battle.
Mattias Persson: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in 2013?
Felix Rosenqvist: To never listen to people's championship speculations. Already after the first round at Monza, I was told by some that my title chances were gone - and I think I went on to prove that they weren't. It's been the same on so many occasions. It seems to be quite common for people to just give up when the going gets tough, but if you've got that inherent fighting spirit, that simply isn't an option. The results will come, but you have - have - to work for them.
Mattias Persson: You did everything you could to claim that FIA Formula 3 European Championship title, but despite winning two races at the Hockenheim finale, it eventually wasn’t quite enough. You've touched on it already, but having had some time to reflect on things, can you value that second place higher now?
Felix Rosenqvist: To be honest; no, I can't. It might sound greedy, but I'm in this sport to win. Getting a trophy for second place gives me very little joy.
Mattias Persson: What are the three most significant differences between the Felix Rosenqvist of five years ago, and the Felix Rosenqvist of today?
Felix Rosenqvist: If you take a flying qualifying lap of today, and one of five years ago - at least a good one from five years ago! - it's probably not that big a difference. Today, however, I'm much more flexible, and have learned to adapt my driving style to the changing demands of the tyres, set-up and weather etc. I'm quite simply a better all-round driver. Five years ago, I had to channel 100 % of my energy into driving the car fast - today, that same task only requires, say, 50 %. The rest, and I think this is quite important, can be used to maximise all the other aspects of going racing.
Mattias Persson: The main season may now be over, but one of the real highlights on the calendar is still to come. In just a few weeks (14-17 November), it’s once again time for the Macau Grand Prix world finale – a very, very special event. You finished second there last year, and – coming off the back of such a strong season – I can only assume that you have high ambitions once again?
Felix Rosenqvist: Yes. Last year's Macau Grand Prix was quite similar to this year's FIA Formula 3 European Championship campaign; well executed, but unfortunately not quite enough for victory. I hope to settle the score with António Félix da Costa - who beat me at Macau last year - this time around!
Mattias Persson: Why is Macau such an exceptional race – and what is it that makes it so difficult?
Felix Rosenqvist: Macau is a bit like racing in the 1970s or 1980s. The single most treacherous aspect of the Macau Grand Prix is the fact that your entire weekend can get destroyed literally within a tenth of a second - you have to be so alert, and lucky, right from the start of free practice. The slightest mistake can turn everything you've worked for into dust. It's a challenge to even make it into the main race without having hit the wall at some stage or another. You feel very much alive when you're racing at Macau, and you show your rivals greater respect as well because of the dangerous nature of the track. There is no other place like it.
Mattias Persson: What is your favourite section of the Macau street circuit?
Felix Rosenqvist: The Solitude Esses. It's a tremendously fast part of the lap, and - being a bit of an adrenaline junkie - it's everything I love about Macau. If we'd been able to carry passengers through there on a flat-out lap, they would undoubtedly question our mental health...
--- Video: Join Felix for a virtual lap around Macau.
Mattias Persson: As always in Macau, the field looks massively competitive. All of the top F3 runners from throughout the world will be on-site, as will a number of frontrunning drivers from the ranks of GP3, GP2 and World Series by Renault. Who do you view as your main rivals in the battle for victory?
Felix Rosenqvist: Well, there are so many good drivers! António Félix da Costa, whom I mentioned before, Carlos Sainz Jr., Alex Lynn, Alexander Sims, Raffaele Marciello, Tom Blomqvist... I really don't know. I think quite a few of us will be on a similar pace, and to win it will require a lot more than just speed.
Mattias Persson: Any particular preparations going on before the race? What is your plan between now and the start of free practice?
Felix Rosenqvist: Nothing beyond the usual, really. I'll travel to Asia slightly earlier than normal to make sure I fully acclimatise, but other than that, it'll be pretty much the same procedure as last year.