The European Formula 3 Championship has never been this heated. Race 2 of the Spielberg weekend is over at the amazing Red Bull Ring track, and saw Mick Schumacher take yet another win. However, a young Ferrari Driver Academy member is breathing on his neck to get his hands on the title. Marcus Armstrong, 18 years old, joined the Ferrari Driver Academy in 2016 and has been proving his worth since then.
We managed to ask him a few questions on his future and on his experience in Maranello.
Marcus, you have been part of the Ferrari Driver Academy for almost two years now. How would you sum up the experience so far? How would you say it helped your development as a driver?
‘‘I was first signed to the FDA without a season in cars, so it was clear that I had a lot of room for development and improvement. I was taught the best general approach to perform well and ways to deal with high pressure situations. Also, with the collaboration with Prema we worked hard over the off-season of 2016/2017 to get myself ready to be winning immediately. It is very much a team-work environment, I was lucky enough to watch how Charles [Leclerc, F2 2017 Champion and 2019 Scuderia Ferrari drive, ed.] managed F2 which was a good benchmark of how to do it.’’
How would you describe your relationship with the fellow FDA drivers? Is it particularly influenced by competition or do you prefer a constructive, collective approach?
‘‘I have a good relationship with all the FDA drivers. Unlike many sports, drivers spend a lot of time together away from the track which can be good and bad in some ways. Luckily we have a good group of guys here in Maranello. Of course there is the competition aspect: as racing drivers we are even competitive in a game of tennis!’’
What do you think about the 2019 merger between the FIA Formula 3 European Championship and the GP3 Series?
‘‘I don’t have a lot of information about it. From my experiences this year in F3 I believe it’s a shame to put away such a fantastic car. The downforce and mechanical grip from the car is really quite special for a junior category.’’
You are currently third in your category’s standings, in your rookie year. How do you feel about your performance so far this year?
‘‘Yes, 3rd with two (now one and a half, ed.) rounds remaining. I always tend to set myself high targets, now my goal is still to win the championship. I got a lot of inspiration from listening to stories of Esteban Ocon when he won F3 as a rookie. I feel like this year we have had some tough luck, in Budapest, Spa, Misano, where we lost 1st’s or 2nd’s to crashes that were out of our control. Yet, we are still in the championship fight. There is still everything to play for so it will be interesting.’’
Is there a driver on the current F1 grid whom you consider an inspiration and/or a role model?
‘‘Charles especially. He obviously came through the FDA and I got to know him on a more personal level so to see the way he operates in the car is something quite special. I also like to watch Esteban, Lance (Stroll, ed.) and Pierre (Gasly, ed.) as they all raced for Prema and my engineer this season took both Esteban and Lance to their F3 titles.’’
Do you have any particular pre-race ritual you like to perform?
‘‘I’m not one for superstitions. I have a routine that I have gotten into: warming-up, stretching, espresso. I have nothing special to do before I get into the car.’’
Thank you to Ferrari for allowing us to ask this talented driver some questions. Follow Marcus on Instagram to keep updated with his development.
Our series of interviews with FDA drivers has just begun. Next up on the list is Callum Ilott, running third in the GP3 Series standings. Stay tuned for more!