Results have not gone Felix Rosenqvist’s way in the opening rounds of the German ATS Formula 3 Cup championship, despite the Swedish F3 rookie having been one of the fastest drivers since the word go. After a troubled start to the season at Oschersleben, Rosenqvist proved his worth by conquering a podium at the following race at Sachsenring, before bad luck struck again as the Performance Racing driver was hit from behind and had to retire from the lead when on his way to his first victory at Hockenheim.
Having taken the chequered flag just twice in six races, the three-time Formula Renault champion has faced an uphill struggle in the first part of the 2010 season. Felix Rosenqvist isn’t one to give up, though, and most importantly – he knows that Lady Luck will have to start smiling at him sooner or later…
Mattias Persson: Felix, two race finishes and a current ninth place in the championship doesn’t sound too impressive, but fact is that you’ve been very quick more or less since day one. How do you reflect on your first few months of Formula 3?
Felix Rosenqvist: You get enormously disappointed when you don’t succeed results-wise, even if you know you belong in the very top. It just hasn’t worked out, despite me having had front-running pace and despite the fact that I’ve qualified in the top three for the last four races. It’s easy to come up with excuses and say that you’ve been quickest in practice or qualifying etc., but at the end of the day it all comes down to actual race results – which I have failed to bring about. I have done many own mistakes, but most of the time I’ve basically been held back by pure, simple bad luck. I’m getting more and more convinced that Formula 3 is a two-year project; there are too many impressions and things to learn to be able to deliver flawlessly immediately (at least with the limited number of test days I’ve had ahead of the season).
Mattias Persson: You came extremely close to giving Performance Racing their first-ever international F3 win when you had to retire from the lead at Hockenheim last time out – how has your cooperation with the team been going in the early parts of the season?
Felix Rosenqvist: Teamwork isn’t something that gels perfectly from the outset, it grows and constantly becomes better and better. I always spend the first few days at a new team just walking around and asking people their names, and inevitably, you don’t feel at home right away – it’s always the same. Now, though, we have great fun together and our working methods keep improving all the time. I probably couldn’t be more happy about how the relationship with Performance Racing has been working this far. I get along really well with my race engineer Stuart, which has helped us with the development of the car etc. My mechanics have also done a blinding job – it’s just a shame I haven’t been able to give them the results they deserve, because I know how hard they’re working.
Mattias Persson: How have you been affected by all that bad luck – if now there is any such thing as that – this year? Last season, you finished every race you drove, but Germany seems to be a bit harsh to you…
Felix Rosenqvist: Every setback toughens your psyche enormously. Previously in my racing career, I’ve hardly had any problems at all – everything has just been flowing. Therefore, when we came to the first race at Oschersleben and found out that the engine didn’t work due to an ECU-related issue – and missed almost all of practice – it was a bit tough mentally. It was the same in Hockenheim when, as you mentioned, I was on my way towards victory but ended up in a concrete wall. Luckily, I tend to forget bad moments fairly easily – you sulk for an hour afterwards, and that’s it.
Mattias Persson: Is there anything that has surprised you when it comes to the step from Formula Renault to F3, or is everything panning out exactly as you had imagined?
Felix Rosenqvist: The one thing that never fails to surprise me is the extreme grip of the F3 car in high-speed corners. I’ve also had big problems with the starts, which were never an issue for me earlier in my career when I competed in Formula Renault – I don’t think I’ve lost a position at the start more than two or three times before. The starting technique is very particular in Formula 3, but I got off the line very efficiently at the last round in Hockenheim and do feel as though I’ve got to grips with it all now – literally! Another very finely balanced point is to extract the maximum potential out of new tyres in qualifying. You get more and more comfortable running on new tyres every time you do it, but it takes time to master and the Yokohama rubber we run on is also rather different compared to what I became used to in Formula Renault.
Mattias Persson: Several promising talents have been placed in the championship, with a number of them enjoying support all the way from Formula 1. Meanwhile, a few other F3 series have become considerably less competitive ahead of this season – at least on paper. What about the level of the ATS Formula 3 Cup?
Felix Rosenqvist: Yes, that’s true. There are many drivers with good backing, which is fun because it lifts the status of the championship. It is nothing short of fantastic that the grid has increased over last year considering the financial crisis. Many championships have only got 12-13 cars, for example the F3 Euro Series, but the competitiveness is still high and we can only hope for the best for that particular championship as well. It’s always very difficult to quantify how high the level is, but many of the drivers who did well last year are quite a long way off the pace this season which seems to suggest that the bar has been raised quite considerably, and I think that the ATS Formula 3 Cup is one of the toughest F3 championships in Europe. For example, Kevin Magnussen (a regular ATS Formula 3 Cup driver with Motopark Academy) won an F3 Euro Series race on his debut there.
Mattias Persson: Three rounds have been run, but there are still six left before the season is over. It sounds like a cliché, but anything really can happen. What hopes and targets have you set yourself for the rest of the year?
Felix Rosenqvist: Naturally, I’ve got my sight set at achieving consistent, decent results in all up-coming races, and perhaps take some extra caution if I find myself in an intricate situation. Then again, after the events of Hockenheim, I guess it’s no secret that I really aim for a victory before the season ends.
Mattias Persson: What does the next few weeks hold for you and Performance Racing?
Felix Rosenqvist: We have a test scheduled for Lausitzring next week. Other than that, it’s pretty calm during the small summer break we currently have to live with, but things will get going again for real next month with many races in a short period of time. I’m working at the moment and am trying to exercise on a regular basis, while also taking the opportunity to enjoy the Swedish summer which has arrived at last!
Mattias Persson: Finally; if you could choose one thing from the first races that you’ve learnt the most from, what would it be?
Felix Rosenqvist: That nobody is going to deliberately give you a clean lap in qualifying…