Felix Rosenqvist scored his second successive podium in Japan’s Super Formula series on Sunday, hauling himself up to third in the overall championship standings.
Having claimed a breakthrough second place at the previous round at Fuji back in early July, Rosenqvist remained on frontrunning form as the field descended on Twin Ring Motegi this weekend, powering to third in Sunday’s race.
“It’s great to be on the podium again, and I think this backs up the view we’ve had recently that we’re definitely heading in the right direction,” says Felix Rosenqvist. “Big thanks to all the guys at Team LeMans for all the hard work they’ve put in since the start of the season – this is great reward for everyone.”
Underlining Rosenqvist’s positive Super Formula trend, Motegi saw the Swede produce his best qualifying effort of the season so far when he made it through to the decisive Q3 segment in a delayed session to take sixth on the grid.
Round four of the campaign also featured an added strategic element, with tyre supplier Yokohama bringing both soft and medium compound rubber to further spice up the action. With drivers required to use one set of each in the 52-lap race, Rosenqvist opted to start on the mediums, the field split roughly 50/50 in strategic choice.
The opening stint initially saw Rosenqvist struggle with oversteering, and he later ran into further trouble when he rejoined in heavy traffic following his mandatory pit stop.
He eventually managed to pick off his slower rivals and snatch third, before setting about chasing down second-placed Kamui Kobayashi. Rosenqvist managed to reel in the ex-F1 star, but was ultimately unable to overtake and finished 0.9 seconds behind the Japanese in a race won by reigning GP2 champion Pierre Gasly (FRA).
The outcome sees Rosenqvist advance from fifth to third in the Super Formula standings, where he now sits just nine points adrift of leader Hiroaki Ishiura (who finished fourth this weekend). Rosenqvist remains the highest-placed rookie.
“It was a good race in the end, but it wasn’t perfect and I did lose a lot of time in traffic after my pit stop,” Rosenqvist comments. “I think that’s where we probably lost the chance to challenge for the win today, coupled with the first stint where I had a lot of oversteer. I also locked up massively coming out of the pits and flat-spotted a tyre – I could hardly see anything towards the end because of the vibrations!
“To be on the podium on a day like this, when there were actually quite a number of difficulties, is really promising. It means we’re now at very high level and that we don’t need that perfect weekend to be up there. We’ll still need it to win, which is the ultimate target, but we’re definitely making significant progress.”
The next Super Formula round takes place at Autopolis on September 9-10.
RESULTS (top five)
Super Formula | Rd. 4
1: Pierre Gasly (FRA), 52 laps
2: Kamui Kobayashi (JPN), +18.583s
3: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), +19.507s
4: Hiroaki Ishiura (JPN), +20.195s
5: Nick Cassidy (NZL), +26.089s
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (top five)
After 4/7 rounds
1: Hiroaki Ishiura (JPN), 25.5 p.
2: André Lotterer (GER), 20 p.
3: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), 16.5 p.
4: Pierre Gasly (FRA), 15 p.
5: Yuhi Sekiguchi (JPN), 15 p.