We spent five minutes chatting with FIA Formula 3 European Championship driver Ferdinand Habsburg after his first two race weekends in the competitive junior series. Here, the 19 year-old talks street circuits, preparation and engines……
We’re two races into the 2017 season now, has the season started as you expected?
No not really. Silverstone was harder than expected, but I think we moved on from that and bounced back quite quickly with a podium in Monza. To bounce back so quickly was nice, maybe a little surprising; I was really pleased with that result.
What’s the atmosphere like within the team?
It’s probably the best on the grid. Seriously, we’ve got four good drivers, a really good car and there’s banter, there’s harmony and friendly competition. Eagerness for wins is high!! We get on really well and you can tell that every team member is as invested in winning as the drivers are.
Is there one track on the calendar that you’re looking forward to in particular?
Zandvoort. Definitely. It’s my favourite track, I love how the sense of old school is still there. It’s the physicality of it, the trickiness with the tyres. It’s just a proper track. I was on the podium in my first ever car race at Zandvoort, so I’ve got good memories of it.
Next up for you is the third round of the FIA Formula 3 season in Pau. It’s your first visit to the track, but do you like street races?
Yeah I’m hoping for good things. From experience, I seem to do well on street circuits, I got pole in Monaco in Formula Renault 2.0 so I’m confident in that respect. I’m focussing on getting the right prep for the weekend. From working hard with my engineer, spending plenty of time on the sim, to my fitness, nutrition and sleep, I want to head there in the best condition possible. Spending plenty of time on the sim is particularly important when you’re heading to a track you haven’t raced on before.
You raced in EuroFormula Open last season which also features the F3 car. What’s the difference between now in FIA Formula 3 European Championship?
I think the intensity of the competition is the main difference. The consistency of having to push yourself, there’s no give. It’s hard to come back from a mistake.
Some of the Mercedes drivers have been complaining that the Volkswagen drivers have an engine advantage. What are your thoughts on that?
Obviously, we have a good package, car and engine. But in race one in Monza we were in the bottom four in the speed traps which says a lot! We were never once the top four in the speed traps, but we still locked out the podium.
The fact that Mercedes powered cars have dominated for the last six years has been overlooked. The fact that Volkswagen now have a really strong driver line-up has worried people, which I guess is understandable – but is pretty pointless!
I think also Carlin were fighting back in a very big way from a difficult year in 2016, and combined with a reasonable line-up this has really had a big impact. For me as a driver when I’m racing, my feeling isn’t that I’m quicker on the straight, but that I’m quicker in the corners – which means I’m going to be quicker going onto the straight. The Carlin car I think is just better than other cars currently. We must keep working hard now to maintain those advantages; things don’t stay the same in motorsport for very long and you know other teams will be pushing hard.