For PREMA Racing Team Principal René Roisin, Robert Shwartzman’s Formula 3 title victory was sparked by his emphatic finish to 2018, but it was won by the emotional growth and maturity that he has garnered in 2019.
You’d be forgiven for forgetting that the Ferrari F1 junior is barely 20-years-old, given his accomplishments and development throughout this campaign. So often in his drives and the way he has spoken this season, he has come across with a worldliness that bellies his tender years.
This perception of him has been carefully sculpted and nurtured throughout the year. Shwartzman is doubtlessly talented, but still a teenager, he had some rough edges, and Rosin has praised the Russian’s personal progression throughout a long and strenuous campaign.
“He has matured a lot,” he began. “At the beginning, he was just thinking of winning and nothing else. For him, it was just about the result, but at the end of the day, it is not just about the result. You need to build up a relationship, you need to build up confidence and you need to build up an integration in the team.
“When you have that, the results will come. When you have confidence in what you are capable of doing, when you are trusting the engineers around you, when you trust all of the mechanics and the team manager, everything becomes easier."
Shwartzman’s form this season has been widely lauded, but it began with PREMA at the backend of 2018. He seemed to flick a switch in Round 8 of the European Formula 3 season, at the Nürburgring in Germany, and suddenly, a stream of steady points finishes transformed into a sea of podiums and race wins.
He ended 2018 third in the now defunct championship, having secured eight podiums in the final nine races, which included two wins and five P2s. For 2019 in the new FIA F3 Championship, the Italian squad retained the talented Russian and it’s a move that both sides have revelled in.
Two wins from the first four races was a springboard for a successful title challenge, one that was sealed in the first race of the final round, in front of a home crowd, in Sochi.
When you have confidence in what you are capable of doing, when you are trusting the engineers around you, when you trust all of the mechanics and the team manager, everything becomes easier.
“After the race I said by radio that he done an amazing job, that it was a tremendous season,” recalled the PREMA Team Principal. “Last season, he was expecting a bit more at the beginning of the year, so we had quite a long talk before the Nürburgring event, and from there, he was nearly never off the podium.
“When we arrived in Barcelona for the start of the 2019 season, he just picked up from where he left off. Always getting onto the podium and trying to get the maximum out of everything - he has done a tremendous job, he’s been amazing all season.
“Sometimes, he could have done a better job, of course. But, that is part of the Championship. If you look at the 16 races that we have done, he has done everything that we were expecting of him. I give him a very, very big congrats, because he has done an amazing job.”
The instant adjustment that both Shwartzman and PREMA made to the freshly formed F3 Championship shouldn’t be understated. Their dominance in European F3 wouldn’t necessarily translate to a new category, with new machinery and the challenge of overseas circuits.
That adjustment was hard-earned. It was the culmination of tireless preparation from everyone involved in the team.
“We arrived here in Formula 3 and it was the first time for us in this environment,” René continued. “The merge between the FIA European Formula 3 Championship and the GP3 Series, for us, was all new.
“Some people had already worked with GP3 in the past, but it was still a new challenge - everything was new, as I mentioned. All of the drivers have worked pretty hard since the first day. Everybody had the target to achieve the best result race-by-race and then at the end, we would see where we would be.”
He secured the Championship and I think now, the pressure has been released.
For Shwartzman, that resulted in the F3 title, as he finished with 212 points ahead of his teammates’ Marcus Armstrong and Jehan Daruvala in second and third. Following this, in his Championship winning press conference, he revealed the nerves that he had been battling with in the lead-up to what was arguably the biggest day of his career to date.
Asked if this had been evident behind closed doors, Rosin revealed: “At least, if he was nervous, he didn't show that he was feeling the pressure. Of course though, having the last race of the championship in his home country, in Russia, supported by a Russian sponsor, that is a lot of pressure.
“He had a lot of expectation on him during the weekend and even though he didn't win the race, he got pole position and he secured the Championship. I think now, the pressure has been released.”