After the open spaces and vast run-off areas of Hockenheim, the FIA Formula 3 European Championship prepares for a contrasting experience this weekend, as the tight confines of the famous Pau street circuit set the stage for round three of the 2014 campaign.
Sitting on the edge of the French Pyrenees, Pau holds a special place in the F3 book of fame. The challenging city-centre venue not only puts a premium on driver skill, but also boosts an impressive history dating back to 1933, making it one of the true classics on the international motor racing calendar.
Felix Rosenqvist heads to France determined to make up for the setbacks suffered at Hockenheim last weekend, when he was forced to retire from the final race of the meeting due to a loss of engine power when looking on course for a podium. Having raced strongly at Pau on his first - and only - visit two years ago, the Swede is ready to make amends as he heads into one of the most spectacular events of the season.
Flashback: Hockenheim (Round 2)
- Felix Rosenqvist forced out of podium scrap
- Felix avoids engine change for Pau
- Video: Felix reviews Hockenheim, looks ahead to Pau
- Gallery: Hockenheim through the lens
Length: 2.760 km
Lap record, F3: 1m11.070s (Raffaele Marciello, 2012)
2013 results (Felix): no race staged
Race duration: 35 minutes
With Armco barriers lining the entire length of the lap, the Pau circuit resembles the majority of other street venues in that it leaves absolutely minimal room for mistakes. Overtaking is almost impossible to conduct, and the only realistic spot to make up a position is under braking for Turn 2 – but even there, the risks are abundant.
Pau is also home to one of the most dramatic corners on the entire calendar; Virage Foch. With cars bouncing spectacularly as drivers use the edge of a roundabout to cut the corner on entry – and the kerb of a sidewalk to straighten it out on exit - this iconic section requires massive dedication and an efficient suspension set-up. This part of the lap has been the scene of many accidents over the years; expect similar drama in 2014.
“I’ve driven at Pau once before, in 2012, and it’s a really impressive place. I’m a big fan of street circuits; there is no room for mistakes, but at the same time, you have got to almost touch the barriers - and that equation makes for very small margins when you travel at 200 km/h. The section around the park at the back of the circuit is seriously fast, and leads into the famous Foch corner where you need to carry as much speed as possible over the roundabout kerbs – the worse it feels, the quicker it is! Pau is all about precision, and very different from a traditional circuit like Hockenheim, so it’s a completely new game this weekend. I’ve got a good feeling and am very much looking forward to it.”
All times local (GMT+02:00)
Friday 9 May
Free Practice 1: 11.10 (40 minutes)
Free Practice 2: 11.55 (40 minutes)
Qualifying 1: 16.40 (45 minutes)
Saturday 10 May
Race 1: 11.15 (35 minutes)
Qualifying 2: 15.40 (45 minutes)
Sunday 11 May
Race 2: 11.15 (35 minutes)
Race 3: 15.15 (35 minutes)
HOW IT WORKS
Each round of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship is made up of three races, all of which are of equal length (35 minutes) and importance for the outcome in the title chase. The points structure mirrors that in use in Formula 1, running to the 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 system.
The grid for all three races is set in the two qualifying sessions. For Race 1, the starting order is established by the outright results of Qualifying 1, while the subsequent second qualifying session forms the grid for Race 2. For Race 3, the grid will be based on each driver’s second-fastest lap in Qualifying 2.
Pau: split qualifying
Due to the narrow nature of the Pau street circuit, this weekend will feature a split qualifying system where the field is divided into two groups in order to ease traffic. The driver who sets the quickest time – regardless of which of the two groups he runs in – will be handed pole position, with the rest of the runners from that group filling the “uneven” side of the grid in 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th etc. The drivers in the other group then take up the “even” grid slots in 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th etc.
The full 2014 calendar can be viewed here.
FIA Formula 3 European Championship 2014 – teams and drivers
HOW TO FOLLOW FELIX THIS WEEKEND
As always, www.felixracing.se will be fully updated throughout the weekend, with reports from each of the sessions that take place. The website is the central hub of information for everything that goes on both on and off the track, and will also feature other relevant news, pictures and videos.
All three races at the event will be streamed LIVE at www.fiaf3europe.com. In addition to the real-time broadcasts, a new-for-2014 agreement will also see Eurosport produce a magazine-style wrap-up show to be aired on the Tuesday following each round.
The interaction with fans and followers will principally involve Felix Racing’s official Facebook Fan Page, where supporters can discuss all the goings-on and post potential questions to Felix. Tweets will also be forthcoming through Felix’s own Twitter account (@FRosenqvist).