Round five of the 2014 FIA Formula 3 European Championship sees Felix Rosenqvist and the rest of the F3 fraternity travel to the deep forests of the Belgian Ardennes, as the field prepares to battle it out at one of the sport’s greatest driving challenges: Spa-Francorchamps.
With its 7 km lap packed with legendary sections such as Eau Rouge, Pouhon and Blanchimont, Spa holds an undisputed place in the history books of motor racing, and makes for a popular return to the FIA Formula 3 European Championship calendar following a year on the sidelines in 2013.
Felix travels to Belgium looking to maintain the positive momentum of his most recent racing activities, two weeks on from an emphatic double win for the Team Sweden FA1 squad at Monza.
After a penalty forced him out of an increasingly vivid victory dispute at the latest F3 round in Budapest, however, there is an element of unfinished business going into the up-coming weekend, with Felix eager to return to the winners’ circle sooner rather than later.
Add to that the fact that Spa remains one of the few circuits on which the Mercedes-backed Mücke Motorsport man is yet to celebrate an F3 victory, and there is no shortage of incentives as we head into the most hectic part of the season.
Flashback: the previous races
FIA F3 European Championship: Budapest (Round 4)
30/5 – 1/6
Length: 7.004 km
Lap record, F3: 2m16.123s (Félix Serrallés, 2012)
2013 results (Felix): no race staged
Race duration: 35 minutes
Above everything else, Spa-Francorchamps is a massively fast circuit. At no other venue on the calendar do drivers travel at full throttle for a similar amount of time, setting the stage for several genuine overtaking opportunities and close racing.
The majority of the corners are negotiated at very high speeds – often above 200 km/h – but the start/finish area is dominated by the slow Bus Stop chicane and the La Source hairpin; with the latter requiring a good exit in order to carry as much speed as possible through the mind-blowing uphill sweep of Eau Rouge and onto the subsequent Kemmel straight.
The key to a competitive lap time at Spa is spelled “trade-off”, with teams seeking to find the right balance between top speed on the never-ending straights and decent grip in the aerodynamically sensitive corners in the middle part of the lap. Many tend to put a premium on top speed in an attempt to aid overtaking, but there is a very fine line on the road to exaggeration and the slightest mistake on set-up can bite back remorselessly in the shape of tyre-chewing oversteer.
Spa-Francorchamps is surrounded by the forests and mountains of the Belgian Ardennes, making it infamous for its changeable micro climate, and is also the longest circuit on the calendar at 7.004 km.
“Spa is a fantastic circuit; everyone loves to race there. It features a unique mixture of fast and slow – but technical – corners, and the climb up Eau Rouge and along the Kemmel straight makes for some close racing. I drove at Spa most recently in 2012, and got to experience just how quickly the weather can change in the Ardennes; you can go from blue skies to pouring rain in literally ten minutes. It will be great fun to get back, and the aim is to continue along the positive path we took towards the end of the weekend in Budapest. I go to Belgium with the added momentum of the FA1 double win at Monza two weeks ago, and Spa is one of the few circuits on which I haven’t yet won in F3. I’ll do my best for that to change this weekend.”
All times local (GMT+02:00)
Friday 20 June
Free Practice 1: 09.45 (40 minutes)
Free Practice 2: 10.30 (40 minutes)
Qualifying 1: 14.10 (20 minutes)
Qualifying 2: 17.15 (20 minutes)
Saturday 21 June
Race 1: 11.45 (35 minutes)
Race 2: 16.30 (35 minutes)
Sunday 22 June
Race 3: 10.05 (35 minutes)
HOW IT WORKS – AN FIA F3 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP QUICK GUIDE
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 (with the top ten finishers in each race scoring points).
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.
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, with a link set to appear in the slider field at the top of the www.felixracing.se start page. 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).