Interview by Sergio Álvarez with the contribution of Diego Merino
Street circuits are a popular feature among motorsport fans. They tend to provide 50% of the show by displaying their particular locations and by playing with the additional risk that their menacing walls impose. Accuracy becomes the main skill when a motorsport category races at one of them. Who cares about a boring race when you can enjoy the skyline views of an exotic city?
Meanwhile, drivers do on track the talk about Street circuits. Take Daniel Ricciardo, for this matter. His performances at Monaco and Singapore are astonishing year after year. And he’s the man championed by the legion of so-called specialized journalists from across the globe, heading all their rankings thanks to his performances compared to a four-time world champion in 2014, and to the next big thing in 2016. Maybe there is a strong link between been a great Street racer and being a great driver?
In order to extract our own conclusions, we chatted with Sweden’s Felix Rosenqvist, the most versatile Racing driver in the world (having competed in Formula E, F3, Blancpain Endurance Series, Indy Lights and DTM in the space of one year). He is the boss around the corners of the most difficult Street track of the pack: the F3 Macau Grand Prix. Two wins and a second place probably make him already the most succesful driver in the history of the event.
“The key for a quick lap at Macau is to know your limits,” he explains to Iberianmph. “For every corner, you need to know what’s the maximum; you need to find that out in free practice. Then, when you go for qualifying, you start by doing a couple of laps and finally, when you really want to go for it, you risk everything in every corner, and that’s what makes the difference. If you gain two, three or four tenths in each corner, it adds up to a massive amount at the end of the lap. We’ve seen sometimes people taking pole by more than half a second, and I think that this happens when you really have that bravery and full confidence in the car and you know your exact limit in every corner. And then, when you just go for it, you get a really good lap at Macau.”
In 2016, the story of Macau had a happy end for Felix Rosenqvist, but it was tough nevertheless: “The weekend didn’t really start as we wanted to. We had different tyres this year with the Pirellis, and everybody found them a bit difficult. The beginning of the weekend was more of a test than trying to go for a laptime, as it was in previous years. Everything was different, but I think that especially Carlin and Antonio Félix da Costa did an excellent job. They came better prepared than the rest and it’s all about it. I think that we lost the weekend on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, not on Sunday.”
And what about his prospects for the other jewel of Street Racing? “I’ve never won in Monaco. For me it is special to win those races that mean something else than the others, so I’d really like to win there. A Street circuit is always a Street circuit! It looks quite tough, especially when you walk there in the streets you realise how quick the cars go there. I raced there in karting once. Formula E has a very similar layout to the karting circuit, so I am really looking forward to it.”
A track as challenging at the Macau Street circuit does encourage you to take a break after a weekend Racing over its asphalt: “Since Macau, I haven’t been thinking too much about next year,” says Felix. “I just felt that I needed two or three weeks to do nothing, to do other things apart from motorsport. But now I’ve started already to feel that I want to get going again.”
But Monaco and Macau are just two small examples of the topics we talked with Mr. Rosenqvist about. If you want to know what does he have to say about Formula E, Mercedes, tyres, the motorsport ladder and even Stefan Johansson, watch this space.
The full interview is coming soon to Iberianmph.com.