Macau Grand Prix Madness LIVE
From the time I first started following motorsport the Macau Grand Prix alway fascinated me. Along with Le Mans it was one of those bucket list events. Fortunately I can say that I have attended the race and what a wild trip it was.
The Macau Grand Prix is like no other race meeting in the world.
From the way it is organised, or disorganised, to the insane nature of the narrow and spectacular Guia street circuit the Macau Grand Prix remains high on the list of must see events for any true motorsport fan.
Sadly if you, like me, can’t make it this year, the good news is that once again the organisers are live streaming all four days of the meeting, except for the WTCC races due to international TV rights.
But everything else is there including the insanely dangerous motorcycle GP that has sadly claimed more than it’s fair share of riders over the years.
This year marks the last time for the “traditional” F3 event, with next years race adopting the new one make F3 regs.
FIA Formula 3 European Champion Mick Schumacher and All-Japan Formula 3 Championship title winner Sho Tsuboi will battle it out with 2017 Macao victor Dan Ticktum and a host of world motorsport’s top young talents as they vie to come out on top of a superb 28-car field. The battleground is the famous Guia Circuit, and gets underway with free practice and qualifying on Thursday 15th and Friday 16th November, the Qualification Race which sets the grid for the main race held on Saturday 17th, before the Grand Prix itself on Sunday 18th November.
Red Bull Junior Ticktum heads an ultra-strong five-car entry from the German team Motopark, whose Dallara chassis are powered by Volkswagen engines. The leader of the FIA F3 European Championship for much of the season, British driver Ticktum was pipped at the post by Schumacher in his first full campaign in F3. This is Ticktum’s third visit to Macao, where he will bid to become the fourth man to win the race twice in the F3 era, to follow in the footsteps of Edoardo Mortara (2009/10), António Félix da Costa (2012/16) and Felix Rosenqvist (2014/15).
Joining him at Motopark is super-talented Estonian F3 rookie Jüri Vips. Vips has never been to Macao before, but is a street-circuit maestro and scored his first win in the category on the Norisring temporary circuit back in June. There is intrigue at this team too. Joel Eriksson led in Macao on his second visit in 2017, only to be eliminated in an accident early in the race. After a year in the DTM with BMW, the Swede returns to F3 for Macao to attempt to settle his score with the Guia Circuit. Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Habsburg, who came so close to pulling off an epic last-corner move for Macao victory in 2017, switches from Carlin to Motopark for this race, while Marino Sato is back for a second crack at Macao in the team’s other entry.
Much attention will be on SJM Theodore Racing by PREMA. The Italian team has entered its regular five drivers from this season’s FIA F3 European Championship to steer its quintet of Mercedes-powered Dallaras around the Guia Circuit. Top of them is Schumacher, who claimed fastest lap on his Macao debut last year after a gearbox problem wrecked his chances of victory. He will bid to emulate his legendary father Michael and uncle Ralf, who won the Macau Grand Prix in 1990 and 1995 respectively.
The team also enters a trio of members of the Ferrari Driver Academy. Among them, New Zealand talent Marcus Armstrong led the European F3 standings for some time this season in his rookie campaign but, like Russian Robert Shvartzman – winner of the European F3 rookie title this year – he is a first-timer on the Guia Circuit. The other driver under the Prancing Horse banner is Shanghai’s Guanyu Zhou, who took his maiden F3 win on the streets of Pau, France, this season and visits Macao for the third time. And don’t underestimate Ralf Aron – the Estonian won the prestigious Pau Grand Prix street race in May, and scored a podium on his Macao debut in 2017.
The famous Toyota-powered TOM’S team from Japan has to go back a decade to find its last Macau winner, but has a rich history on this circuit. It has had stunning success in Japan this season, with Tsuboi winning all but two races on his way to the title, and Ritomo Miyata claiming the races in which Tsuboi didn’t take victory. The two Toyota proteges have both been to Macao before, with Tsuboi making his third visit.
British squad Carlin also has a successful Macau history, and has entered four of its Volkswagen-powered Dallaras. After a race-winning season in the GP3 Series, the Ferrari Driver Academy’s Callum Ilott returns to F3 for Macau with Carlin, the team with which he made the first of his three appearances in the race to date in 2015. Last year he won the Qualification Race, before colliding with Eriksson in the final as they fought for the lead. Beside him are Jehan Daruvala, who has been a Force India F1 junior this season, and Renault Sport Academy youngster Sacha Fenestraz, who have both won European F3 races in 2018. Both return for a second attempt at Macau after taking top-10 finishes on their Macau debuts in 2017. The team also runs Yoshiaki Katayama, a regular points scorer in Japanese F3 this season.
Dutch team Van Amersfoort Racing is always strong at Macao, although has yet to get a driver into the winner’s circle. Two of the team’s Mercedes-powered Dallaras will be driven by German duo Sophia Flörsch and Keyvan Andres. Flörsch joined the European F3 season late but has shown flashes of form leading up to her Macao debut, while second-time visitor Andres took a Norisring podium. They will be joined by Dane Frederik Vesti, who stepped up from the German-based Formula 4 championship for the final European F3 round at Hockenheim, and for whom Macao will be just his second competitive outing in the category.
Hitech Grand Prix ran George Russell to a stunning pole position on the team’s Macao debut in 2016 and, after skipping the race last year, the British team is back in 2018 with a trio of Mercedes-engined Dallaras. Briton Enaam Ahmed briefly led the European F3 rankings in a great start to his rookie season, and he is joined in the line-up by Macao youngster Leong Hon Chio. The champion of last year’s Chinese Formula 4 and Asian Formula Renault championships, Leong has been a front-runner in the new F3 Asian Championship Certified by FIA this season with Hitech’s sister team, and will be a big focus of the home crowd. The team’s third driver is yet to be named.
Joining TOM’S from the All-Japan F3 Championship are three more teams. B-Max Engineering is always loyal to Macao, but has yet to name its two drivers for its Volkswagen-engined cars. ThreeBond Racing and Toda Racing, both of which produce their own powerplants, each bring Honda-backed Japanese talents for the youngsters’ first tastes of Macao. Ukyo Sasahara claimed third position in his rookie F3 season this year with ThreeBond, which saw its engine race onto the podium in 2014 with Nick Cassidy driving. Toda runs Sena Sakaguchi and Toshiki Oyu, both of whom have scored good results this season, Oyu as an F3 rookie.
So settle in for the weekend, grab your Portuguese Tarts and enjoy the chaos.
With Macau Grand Prix Media Release