After a strong weekend in Hockenheim and coming into the Pau event as the reigning Pau Grand Prix winner, Felix Rosenqvist endured a frustrating weekend at the French circuit, with the Prema Powerteam driver suffering from a pair of disappointing qualifying sessions to only take two points finishes in the three races, with a best finish of fifth in race two.
Such as is the nature of the Pau track, even with the field split in half, Rosenqvist struggled to find the gap required to set competitive lap times during qualifying, with both sessions seeing him qualify amongst the midfield runners, ending his run of consecutive pole positions. Despite this setback, the Swedish driver was philosophical, insisting this happens sometimes around street circuits.
“Unfortunately, what happened in qualifying effectively ruined any chance of fighting for the podium this weekend, but that’s street racing sometimes,” said Rosenqvist.
“I normally don’t believe in good or bad luck, but this weekend I think it’s very close at hand. I encountered traffic on basically all of my flying laps, in both sessions; it was quite incredible, really.
“I tried everything to find some clear space. We weren’t the fastest out there this weekend, but the pace was certainly there for a lot more.”
Rosenqvist’s disappointing qualifying meant he was always going to need some luck to get a good haul of points in Pau, but that luck was not forthcoming in race one, where he could only finish fourteenth. In race two, with his best qualifying effort of the weekend (tenth), he was able to take his best result of the weekend in fifth, and admitted it was purely damage limitation.
“The pace was very good but on the first lap another car overtook me under the yellow flag and then I wasn’t able to retake the spot,” said Rosenqvist after race one. “The points were out of reach due to the starting position, even if the pace was very good.
“[In race two we had] very good pace, strong race because we were at the right place in the right time. Good start from P9 to P7, good overtaking and finished in P5. It’s been a successful damage limitation by not missing too many points.”
Rosenqvist admitted he was slightly lucky to secure sixth place in the final race of the weekend on Sunday, capitalising on his Prema Powerteam team-mate Jake Dennis’ problems to pass Alessio Lorandi, but ultimately was disappointed to suffer with a lack of grip as he and his team experimented with his set-up.
“In the third race we were lacking grip and the pace wasn’t good,” reflected Rosenqvist. “I was risking too much so I decided to stop pushing and keep some points.
“In the end, when Jake was slowing down because of the technical issue, I also overtook Lorandi so I was lucky and in a good position. Considering where I started, it was positive to finish in sixth.
“The speed was quite bad but the strategy was good. We learned a lot though from the weekend on a technical side, as we tried a few things. We experimented a bit as we were starting from the back.”
Rosenqvist was reflective after the conclusion of the weekend, with the Swede admitting it was damage limitation after his difficult qualifying sessions. He knows however that he can still claw back the gap in the championship with so many races of the season still to run.
“We were obviously expecting a lot more going into this weekend, but given how things evolved, I think we managed to limit the damage fairly well,” concluded Rosenqvist.
“I did lose some ground in the championship, but there are still 24 races to go this season and we will fight back.”