Prema Power – How the kings of F3 are driving the aspirations of F1’s future stars

For most young drivers who aspire to drive at the very highest level of motorsport, there is a tried and tested route to follow.

The traditional ladder to the pinnacle of the sport is to progress through karting and the junior formulas, usually the final rungs of that ladder being that of Formula 3 and Formula 2.

And, for most of these aspiring drivers, the team at the top of the list to join would invariably be reigning F3 Champions Prema Powerteam, the dominant force in junior Formulae over the years.

Such is the supremacy of Prema, the outfit has won the FIA European Formula 3 Championship for the past six seasons and this year, which was the first to combine the championship with GP2 in the guise of Formula 3, Robert Shwartzman romped to victory from teammates Marcus Armstrong and Jehan Daravula by a huge points margin.

Prema is very much a family affair, with current boss Rene Rosin leading the company founded by his mother and father back in 1983. Motorsport Tech caught up with Rene for a chat about this remarkable success story to uncover just how this Italian outfit has become such a force.

“I think the job we have done is outstanding and I’m really proud of everybody here.”

MT: Hello Rene. Can you tell us about how Prema Powerteam came into operation and what your role involves?

RR: The team is part of a family business that we started back in 1983 and over the years it has evolved and become bigger, and bigger. When I finished my studies, I started working actively inside the team. In the beginning, it was more, let’s say, the communications and marketing side but then after 2006 I moved up into the managerial level of the team and, since 2011, I have been in charge of all the day-to-day management of the team. This job is a part of my family love. Yes, we are a business. Yes, we are a company. But it is as well a family business in which both my mother, my father and indeed my wife have worked for, so it’s a family affair and something in which we share every moment together and I think it’s very special.

MT: 2019 has been a highly successful season for Prema Powerteam, winning the F3 team title in Monza and Robert Schwartzman winning the drivers’ title in Sochi from teammates Marcus Armstrong and Jehan Daravula. Sum up the F3 season and what has been the secret to Prema’s dominance, being so far ahead of the competition.

RR: There is no particular secret to our success in F3. I must say, it is the result of a very hard job that we are doing for a few years already and it’s the continuation of a good job that we started a few years ago and now it’s continuing on that level. It’s a collaboration between team, drivers and every single part of the team, so there is really a good team spirit that is helpful to get these kind of results. Having the championship this year merged between the FIA Formula 3 European Championship and the GP3 series, we got all of the best teams and drivers in this new programme, and of course I think the job we have done is outstanding and I’m really proud of everybody here.

Robert Schwartzman celebrates championship victory in Sochi

MT: It must be particularly satisfying because due to the homologation of car chassis and engines being identical in this category, you simply know you’re doing the best job.

RR: All the cars are the same and all the engines are the same, so it’s all down to who can amplify the value of the drivers. But I would not forget also the team support, because if a driver is alone or is not compliant with the team, the results are difficult to come by. It may happen, but it’s more difficult. When the team is supporting the driver 100% and the team is working with the same mentality and trying to get the maximum out of the drivers, that’s also a big, big help.

MT: You do have three very good drivers currently in F3. That must be a big help.

RR: It’s very important to have good drivers because you cannot win just with the drivers or just with the team. It is the complete package that makes an outstanding job and makes the difference to the competition.

For sure, the next step for them will be to step up into the Formula One feeder series, which is Formula 2. Unfortunately, I would say, we have just two cars split between three drivers so it will not be possible for everybody to step up with us, but I’m sure that for all of them it will be a great future because all of them have their own characteristics, all of them have their own strengths and I’m pretty sure they can do a very good job in the future seasons.

MT: Just how good a driver is Robert and how good can he become if everything falls into place for him? What about Marcus and Jehan?

RR: Of course, it’s every driver’s dream to one day drive in Formula One and I think all the three drivers you mention that are racing with us in Formula 3 are capable of reaching the highest level of the sport. For sure, for everybody, there is the final dream of Formula One but, as you say, to get there requires the perfect things to fall into place. Having the talent is often not enough. It’s having the support, the sponsorship and a lot of factors that have to align to get them there, but they have the qualities and the characteristics to make it to F1.

MT: The F2 season has been a more difficult one for you. How big is the step up in competition between the series and why hasn’t the F3 success translated into F2 success this year?

RR: Honestly, it’s something we’re working on. We’re working on improving a few things but I’m pretty sure that the potential of the team is there and there have been just a few factors this season that have compromised some good results, and if we’d had those results, this season would be seen in a different perspective, so we’re working on it. We know that we can’t rely on past results and past years, but we need to continue working and improving and that’s part of our job. We’re ready to keep pushing and looking forward, because I think that the results are coming.

MT: On a massive positive, the team is really in the headlines because of a certain Mick Schumacher. He’s already being touted for F1 super stardom, so how do you manage those expectations and shield him from the media? How does he manage to do it?

RR: For Mick, this is already his fourth season with us, having moved through all the categories and now this is the last step before, of course, Formula One. It’s an ongoing relationship that we’re hoping to continue for the future, and for the next season. This season has been a bit upside down, there have been moments we have made mistakes as a team and other moments when the driver (Mick) has had a bit of bad luck but I’m pretty sure that the potential is there and soon he will start delivering to the best of his capabilities.

As far as shielding him from all the media stuff and expectations, he honestly has a pretty good team of people around him to handle all this kind of stuff. That’s important, because it allows us to concentrate on the racing and everything from a team point of view. All the other aspects are managed pretty well by Mick’s entire team, which we are dealing with well because we have an amazing relationship with all of them – everything is managed so well that we’re not worried about it. How good can Mick become? Everybody writes their own story, everyone has their own future and their own past. What Mick has shown last year in Formula 3 is that he did an amazing job, had an amazing season to bring home the title with us and he can also do an amazing job in Formula 2. We just need a little time to put it all together and I think he’ll do an amazing job.

MT: Sean Gelael is also a driver who could achieve big things, having driven in several F1 tests for Scuderia Toro Rosso. Another who could go all the way?

RR: Sean, for sure, has great potential too. Sometimes for sure when he was on the way to achieving a very good result, he had some bad luck and some accidents that compromised his result, but I’m really hopeful that in Abu Dhabi he can bring home what he really deserves because he’s an amazing guy, he has great talent and I think he can have an amazing end to the season.

MT: Acronis has been your Tech partner this season, looking after all things regarding cyber protection, data storage and back-up. Just how important is it to have a technical partner on board of this magnitude?

RR: For sure, one of the key advantages in our environment is data storage, and security regarding our software, so having a partner together with us like Acronis is very important. It’s not like ten years ago, when data was limited. Now you have such huge amounts of data to evaluate that this aspect becomes a big factor in motorsport. From the connectivity between everyone in the team, even if they’re not all the time at the factory, or not all the time at the race weekend venue, it’s very important. So, having a partner like Acronis is of tremendous importance for our job.

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.