This weekend, the FIA Formula 3 European Championship finally springs back to life following a two-month break, as the penultimate round of the season takes centre stage at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola.
While the Italian venue – which hosted the San Marino Formula 1 Grand Prix up until 2006 – is set to host an FIA F3 European Championship event for the first time, it’s not a complete step into the unknown for Felix Rosenqvist and his fellow rivals. Two days of official testing in the build-up to the weekend have handed the field an early understanding of the complexity of the track, and – having gone second fastest in the final session on Wednesday afternoon – Rosenqvist is up for the challenge as action gets underway for real…
Official testing – Imola
Flashback: the previous round
FIA F3 European Championship: Nürburgring (Round 9)
Length: 4.909 km
Lap record, FIA F3: no races staged
2013 results (Felix): no races staged
Race duration: 35 minutes
Imola – or Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari as it is formally known – offers a wide variety of corners and ranks in among Europe’s most classic racing circuits.
In the wake of the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix tragedy – in which both Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna lost their lives at the venue – Imola underwent significant safety changes, aimed at reducing the hazards of its most critical sections. Among the measures implemented were the addition of chicanes at the fearsome Tamburello bend – the site of Senna’s fatal accident – and on the approach to the Tosa hairpin (where Ratzenberger had crashed).
More recent developments have seen the spectacular Variante Alta – once famous for its kerb-hopping – taking the form of a more traditional chicane, and the revamping of the aged pits and paddock complex.
Imola is, and always was, a highly demanding track which tends to reward drivers who excel in high-speed corners. A lot of time can be made up in the quick Piratella, Acque Minerali and Variante Villeneuve bends, while substantial elevation changes add further complexity to the lap – as can be seen under braking for the Rivazza left-handers, where a steep downhill approach often upsets car dynamics and brings about excessive tyre locking.
“I’m really looking forward to this weekend. It feels like the autumn break has lasted forever, and it was good to get back into the groove during testing here earlier in the week. The circuit was faster than I expected, and you need to be very aggressive over the kerbs. It requires a lot of dedication – it’s definitely a challenging place. We completed an extensive programme over the two days and the pace was promising, but I’ve been around long enough to know that testing is one thing, and racing another. The competition will be fierce, as always, but my target is to build on what we learned this week and fight at the front of the field.”
All times local (GMT+02:00)
Friday 10 October
Free Practice 1: 09.50 (40 minutes)
Free Practice 2: 10.40 (40 minutes)
Qualifying 1: 14.20 (20 minutes)
Saturday 11 October
Race 1: 11.00 (18 laps – 35 minutes)
Qualifying 2: 17.55 (20 minutes)
Sunday 12 October
Race 2: 10.10 (18 laps – 35 minutes)
Race 3: 16.00 (18 laps – 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 feed link set to appear in the slider field at the top of the www.felixracing.se index 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).