Felix gave Team Sweden a maiden FA1 podium at Portimão on Sunday, although a late loss of engine power forced him out of an exciting battle for victory.
Felix once again found himself in the midst of a three-way fight up front, as he slotted into third behind front row starters Mirko Bortolotti (Team Italy) and Nigel Melker (Team Netherlands) in the first phase of the race.
With a duration of 45 minutes and two compulsory pit stops, it didn’t take long for the event to turn into a strategic tussle, with Melker heading for the pits after just four laps to change his rear tyres. Felix did likewise a tour later, this time without any issues a day on from the 30-second delay suffered in Race 1.
Once Bortolotti re-joined the track after his first pit stop on lap six, the order was Italy ahead of Netherlands and Sweden, with the trio of cars running nose to tail throughout the middle stint.
For the second pit stop sequence, Melker again opted for the so-called “undercut”, hoping to take advantage of fresher tyres to improve track position.
One lap later, Felix and Bortolotti – now running second and first respectively – both headed in, setting up a potentially decisive showdown between the Swedish and Italian pit crews. Both outfits produced quick turnarounds (Sweden doing a sub-seven second stop), enabling Bortolotti to keep his lead and Felix to leapfrog Melker.
With eight more laps to go, the stage was set for a massive scrap over victory – although any hopes of that would unfortunately be short-lived for Felix. His Zytek engine suddenly lost power, allowing Melker to drive past along the main straight and reclaim second. Felix lost in excess of three seconds per lap in the closing stages, but still managed to limp home an unchallenged third to secure a maiden FA1 podium.
Felix will be back behind the wheel again in just one week’s time, as the second round of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship hits Hockenheim.
“This has been a very valuable experience for me, and this podium is for the team and all the hard work they’ve done over the weekend. It’s been great fun racing in FA1, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. Results-wise, it was a case of what could have been for us, and we would at least have finished second today if we hadn’t suffered those engine problems. We’ve given the experienced guys a run for their money and I have definitely improved as a driver this weekend. I’d love to come back in the future, and I wish Team Sweden all the best in the meantime!”
- Pit stop delay leaves Felix fourth in opening FA1 race
- Frenetic pole scrap in Portugal – top three on the same tenth
- Felix to start inaugural FA1 race from row two
- Felix tops first-ever official FA1 practice session
- Video: a tour of Team Sweden
- Felix: Portimão circuit “great fun”
- Video: Team Sweden pit stop practice
- How to follow the FA1 opener