Felix leapt from eighth on the grid to finish fifth in the opening race of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship weekend at the Red Bull Ring, having hauled himself into podium contention in the early stages of the 24-lap event in the Styrian countryside.
In a race which featured no shortage of action, Felix moved all the way into third thanks to an offensive opening lap, aided by a high-profile clash between front row starters Esteban Ocon and Max Verstappen at the first corner.
Felix, having grabbed fourth on the run to Turn 2, then put on a move on third-placed Jake Dennis at Rauch Kurve, grabbing third from the Englishman to complete a rapid rise on cold tyres.
With Tom Blomqvist and Antonio Giovinazzi now first and second, Felix found himself sandwiched between a trio of Carlin cars.
As the race settled in, Felix could not quite match the pace of the Carlin troika, and was forced into defensive mode as Dennis threatened from behind. The duel came to a head at the midway stages, when Felix was forced to run wide on the exit of the Remus hairpin to avoid a collision with the Briton, allowing the recovering Verstappen through to grab third. Felix momentarily dropped behind Dennis as well, but managed to re-claim the position with another cut-over manoeuvre at Rauch.
Felix eventually had to let Dennis through – the pace of the Carlin machine becoming unbearable to resist in the closing stages – and soon came under further pressure from Prema Powerteam’s Antonio Fuoco. A couple of mistakes saw the Italian fall into the clutches of the chasing Gustavo Menezes, however, handing Felix some breathing space as his rivals started battling behind him.
Felix held on to fifth across the line*, feeling he had made the most of the opportunity handed to him. Mücke Motorsport colleagues Lucas Auer and Roy Nissany finished 10th and 11th respectively.
Next up this weekend is Qualifying 2, which sets up the grid for Sunday’s second and third races.
*UPDATE: Following the race, Verstappen was issued with a five-second time penalty after the stewards adjudged him to have completed an illegal pass on Fuoco as he recovered from his lap one clash. The decision dropped Verstappen to fifth, with Felix promoted to fourth.
“I’m happy with my performance in this race; fifth was probably the most we could have hoped for today. I tried every trick in the book to keep Dennis behind, but it was getting increasingly more difficult as the race progressed and I eventually had to let him go. We beat all Prema cars today, and a couple of the Carlin guys as well, and considering our current level of performance, I think we should be quite pleased with that. I’m now fully focussed on qualifying this afternoon, and the target is to start a bit further up the grid tomorrow than we did today.”
|1||31||Tom Blomqvist / GBR Jagonya Ayam with Carlin||24||34:22.248|
|2||19||Antonio Giovinazzi / ITA Jagonya Ayam with Carlin||24||34:26.337||+04.089|
|3||28||Jake Dennis / GBR Carlin||24||34:30.919||+11.750|
|4||27||Felix Rosenqvist / SWE kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport||24||34:33.998||+13.187|
|5||30||Max Verstappen / NED Van Amersfoort Racing||24||34:35.435||+13.671|
|6||25||Antonio Fuoco / ITA Prema Powerteam||24||34:37.900||+15.652|
|7||16||Gustavo Menezes / USA Van Amersfoort Racing||24||34:38.664||+16.416|
|8||26||Dennis van de Laar / NED Prema Powerteam||24||34:42.623||+20.375|
|9||5||Jordan King / GBR Carlin||24||34:43.218||+20.970|
|10||3||Lucas Auer / AUT kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport||24||34:43.779||+21.531|
|11||4||Roy Nissany / ISR kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport||24||34:49.966||+27.718|
|12||20||Sean Gelael / INA Jagonya Ayam with Carlin||24||34:50.735||+28.487|
|13||2||Esteban Ocon / FRA Prema Powerteam||24||34:51.286||+29.038|
|14||21||Félix Serrallés / USA Team West-TecF3||24||34:54.026||+31.778|
|15||18||Tatiana Calderón / COL Jo Zeller Racing||24||34:54.792||+32.544|
|16||22||Hector Hurst / GBR Team West-TecF3||24||35:05.635||+43.387|
|17||12||Alexander Toril / ESP ThreeBond with T-Sport||24||35:06.036||+43.788|
|18||17||Sandro Zeller / SUI Jo Zeller Racing||24||35:07.856||+45.608|
|19||9||Alfonso Celis / MEX Fortec Motorsports||24||35:09.198||+46.950|
|20||10||John Bryant-Meisner / SWE Fortec Motorsports||24||35:11.422||+49.174|
|21||11||Richard Goddard / AUS ThreeBond with T-Sport||24||35:15.315||+53.067|
|22||8||Michele Beretta / ITA Eurointernational||24||35:27.889||+1:05.641|
|–||6||Edward Jones / UAE Carlin||0|
|–||1||Nicholas Latifi / CAN Prema Powerteam||0|
|–||15||Jules Szymkowiak / NED Van Amersfoort Racing||0|
|–||29||Santino Ferrucci / USA Eurointernational||0|