Felix Rosenqvist will dovetail his recently-announced Indy Lights commitment in the USA with dual European programmes, taking up the position of test and reserve driver for the Mercedes-AMG DTM team and racing in the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup.
In his new role as Mercedes-AMG DTM test and reserve driver, reigning Formula 3 European champion Rosenqvist takes over the baton from Frenchman Esteban Ocon, who held the position last year before graduating into a race seat with the Stuttgart team in the popular touring car series for the up-coming season.
“I’ve had an excellent relationship with Mercedes for quite a long time now, and I’m thrilled to be taking that to the next level this season,” says Felix Rosenqvist. “As for the DTM programme, working inside one of the world’s best racing teams will be a huge privilege. The DTM is exceptionally competitive, and being involved with that will give me a lot of new insight.”
Rosenqvist has previous experience of testing the Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM, and used Mercedes engines in each of his milestone achievements during a record-breaking Formula 3 career: winning the Masters of Formula 3 (twice), Grand Prix de Pau, Macau Grand Prix (twice) and the FIA F3 European Championship with power provided by the three-pointed star.
“In Felix Rosenqvist, we have gained the services of a highly ambitious young talent to act as our test and reserve driver,” says Ulrich Fritz, Head of Mercedes-AMG DTM. “The importance of this role was demonstrated last year at the Hockenheim season-finale, when Daniel Juncadella’s bout of illness required Esteban to step in during Friday practice. Felix has clearly shown his huge potential by taking two wins on the tricky street circuit in Macau and also by comfortably winning the FIA F3 European Championship. He now has the chance this season to gain valuable experience in our DTM team.”
Rosenqvist is also set to enter the ranks of GT competition this season, becoming one of the very first drivers to race the all-new Mercedes-AMG GT3 as he joins French squad AKKA-ASP as part of a three-car assault on the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup. The 24-year-old Swede will share driving duties in the team’s sole top-level Pro class entry with Tristan Vautier (France), incidentally a former Indy Lights champion.
“Moving into the world of GT racing is something completely new to me, and I will have to learn quickly,” Rosenqvist continues. “I’m sure the experience of AKKA-ASP gives me the right opportunity to do just that and I can’t wait to put the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 through its paces. Coupled with my DTM role, and Indy Lights to top it off, it will be easily my busiest season yet – but I really couldn’t be more pleased with how this has come together. It’s the perfect set up.”
The Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup boosts five events at selected European circuits, with AKKA-ASP preparing for their first season in the GT3-spec series having previously competed successfully in the sister Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup featuring longer-distance races.
“We are entering three cars in Sprint with three fantastic crews this season, two in the Pro-Am category and one in Pro,” explains Jérôme Policand, AKKA-ASP team manager. “The latter will bring together two genuine top drivers in Tristan Vautier and Felix Rosenqvist. Felix has achieved incredible success at just 24 years of age and is a highly exciting new addition to the team, while Tristan has already raced with us in Blancpain on a few occasions. These two drivers will face a heavy challenge up against the established GT specialists, but they have our full trust and we will be doing our best to fight at the front of the field.”
Rosenqvist’s advisor, ex-Formula 1 and IndyCar driver Stefan Johansson, thinks the main benefit to be had from the intense schedule is that of versatility.
“I’m very pleased with the various programmes Felix has been able to put together for 2016,” says Johansson. ”He will get a huge amount of seat time, which is the best thing any driver could ask for. He will be working with championship-winning teams in DTM, Indy Lights and GT, which will allow him a unique all-round take on motorsport. Every time you drive a racing car you learn something new, and Felix is very good at processing new information. He couldn’t have wished for a better outcome.”
The Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup kicks off at the Italian circuit of Misano on 8-10 April. Felix Rosenqvist’s first race of the season, however, is the Indy Lights curtain-raiser on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, on 11-13 March.