INTERVIEW: Marcus Armstrong on the TRS title fight and his preparations for the new FIA Formula 3
Marcus Armstrong is a Castrol Toyota Racing Series veteran, and this year he returned home to New Zealand with one thing on his mind: taking the championship victory.
Armstrong came off a dominant 2018 FIA Formula 3 Europe season as a rookie, where he held the series lead until a series of mechanical problems took him out of title contention.
The 2019 TRS season has “been very good at times,” he tells Highway F1, “challenging at other times.”
“We've racked up a few trophies along the way which has been really nice.”
“Sometimes it's a little bit strange how we can be P1 one day and then struggling the next, so it's been a little bit inconsistent in performance.”
To an outsider, it seems hard to spot the inconsistency. Armstrong has been on the podium in every race barring reverse-grid starts, and has four first places, the same as his championship rival Liam Lawson. But Armstrong is the perfectionist focused solely on taking out the championship, and any deviation from that course hurts.
“Last weekend, we had a suspension failure in race one, which means that we also have to start last for race two, the reverse grid, because you start where you finish. So that sort of made it a difficult weekend for us…”
“Luckily we bounced back and won the last race, so it was a good way to recover some lost points and also satisfying to win, for my second time, the Denny Hulme trophy, on a track that I very much like.”
Not only did Armstrong take out the Denny Hulme Trophy, but also the New Zealand Motor Cup. “We've racked up a few trophies along the way which has been really nice.”
“I'm enjoying the country and enjoying the nice weather before I go back to the freezing cold…”
“But generally I only look at the championship situation. I like these trophies and all, but the championship is the one that I want. “
Armstrong was the first driver to be announced for Italian team Prema’s entry into the new FIA Formula 3, telling Motorsport.com in December that he felt he had “unfinished business” with the team in F3 after his close call last year.
It’s evident that any celebration on Sunday will have to be brief before Marcus jets off to begin his F3 campaign. “It's my last week in New Zealand before I go back to Europe so I'm enjoying the country and enjoying the nice weather before I go back to the freezing cold, firstly.”
“I'm using TRS as very much a training camp alongside the racing, so that keeps me distracted in the weekdays before I come to the track.”
Armstrong is audibly passionate about his upcoming campaign. “The season's going to be very very tough, but it's going to rewarding if I do the job.”
“The new F3 is basically designed for entertainment, as far as I know - because the tyre has been designed to degrade more throughout the race, which is going to provide more entertainment for people watching and it's going to make the series more difficult to manage, in terms of the championship point of view.”
“I'm very lucky to be in Prema, because they have a huge amount of experience in that Pirelli/GP2/GP3 era, so I'm very lucky to be in that team, and I feel very confident for the season.”