01/05/13

Tom ready for Hockenheim

The third weekend in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship sees a second Red Bull Junior Team member join 19-year-old Briton Tom Blomqvist at Hockenheim for races 7, 8 and 9 in the series. 19-year-old Russian Daniil Kvyat makes his F3 debut with the Carlin Team. The reigning Formula Renault ALPS champion is racing in the GP3 Series this season and as yet this is a one-off F3 drive.

It was a last minute opportunity for Kvyat. “I only found out about it a few days ago,” he explained. The first chance to try the Dallara-Volkswagen came at Pembrey on Monday and Kvyat reported that it was very different to the GP3 he has been working with since the start of the year. “It's a completely different car, it's like comparing Metallica to Justin Bieber, he said with a laugh and his usual huge grin, referring to the difference between the 3.4 litre, 6 cylinder GP3 car and the 2 litre, 4 cylinder F3.”

A positive challenge

“It's a lot closer to the Renault 2 litre I drove last year. It felt very good, for it's class it's a really quick car with a lot of downforce. A lot of downforce for the power that it has.” He is not put off though by having to swap between two such vastly different cars. “I'm not worried about it, I take it as a challenge, something very positive and if you take it like that then it will make you stronger and make you a better driver.”

As for Blomqvist, he is hoping that testing with his EuroInternational Dallara-Mercedes in Vallelunga will enable them to turn things around after a frustrating Silverstone. “We tried a lot of things, learnt what not to do, worked on the balance of the car. Of course Vallelunga is a very different track to Hockenheim but the same principles should apply. I have found so far though that the car reacts quite differently from one track to another so we'll have to see how things are at Hockenheim.”

Hockenheim's uncertain surface

“Another thing is that Hockenheim is really an unknown, it was unbelievable last year how it changed. We had the first F3 race there at the beginning of 2012 and then at the final race of the year the track conditions were completely different. We thought we would be much quicker because we'd developed the car but we were almost one-and-a-half seconds a lap slower and four seconds slower than the year before with the old car. So it seems to be a very strange place and we'll just have to see what it is like this time.”

“I have done a few races there so I know the track and I am confident that I know the fastest way around the circuit so we just have to get the set-up right and maximise the car through the weekend. Qualifying is so important, at Silverstone we had two problems in practice and it messed up the whole weekend for us. We have to make sure we get on top of things as soon as possible and be ready for qualifying. In F3 it is so difficult to pass so that is crucial.”

The aero compromise

Blomqvist explained that the car set-up from the last round is not going to help. It's a very different track to Silverstone where there are a lot of fast flowing corners. At Hockenheim you have the first part of the track which is very start and stop so you need good braking and traction, things like this. The last part is a bit more aero-dependant so you have to get the balance right so the car works in both different sector, the speed for the first sector and the downforce for the second. Last year there were quite a few different solutions. So we have to make sure that we come to free practice already with the best solution so we are not mucking about there and losing time so we can then just get the fine details sorted.”

Chasing points

“It is going to be tough for sure, it always is with 30 cars, it's very competitive but the team are working extremely hard and I am sure we will get there, be up the front where we should be,” concluded Blomqvist who needs to bounce out of 9th place in the championship and close the 80 point deficit on leader Raffaele Marciello. Kvyat has no such agenda. “I am just going in with an open mind. It is a very competitive class and until we get into practice I have no idea where we will stand.”

 

Weekend Race schedule (All times CET)

Saturday May 4th
Race 1 - 11.10
Race 2 – 18.05

Sunday May 5th
Race 3 – 11.00