The long weekend in Macau is heading for its climax. At this event, a qualifying session sets the grid for a qualifying race, the result of which decides the starting order for the actual final race. The ten lap qualifying race was certainly full of incident today. The drivers demolished the existing lap record with this year’s new F3 cars running at a much higher pace than their predecessors.
Qualifying. Robert Shwartzman was immediately a front runner pulling out all the stops to go second fastest. “I’m happy, but a little bit disappointed too,” commented Robert. “Because in the closing minutes I was on an even quicker lap which would have been good enough for pole, but I had to brake in the final section because there was a car blocking the track.” Marcus Armstrong faired less well, even though he had looked very comfortable in the previous session on the 6 and a bit kilometres of the Guia circuit.
The others. After a very quick first lap, Marcus hit the barriers at Police corner and thus his qualifying session ended very early, even though that single flying lap was good enough for ninth on the grid. Callum Ilott had a trouble free session, to take third place, two tenths slower than Shwartzman, confirming that the Englishman seems particularly at east on this track, one of the most technically demanding in the world. However, Enzo Fittipaldi was very unlucky in what is his first time at Macau and his first race in a Formula 3 car. The Brazilian had a lot to learn in a very short space of time, but he was going well in free practice. Unfortunately, in the early part of the session, he was an innocent victim of an accident that left him down in last place.
Qualification Race. The first race, run over ten laps started smoothly for the front runners, but immediately after the start, going into the Lisboa corner there was a crash involving ten cars. Shwartzman and Ilott had already gone through the corner while the carnage took place behind them blocking the track completely. Armstrong was one of the drivers stuck behind and he eventually closed back up to the group behind the inevitable Safety Car.
Robert and Callum At the restart, Shwartzman was second behind Juri Vips and settled for that, not wanting to take any risks prior to Sunday’s final, while Ilott was fifth. “I’m pleased with the result,” commented Robert. “I didn’t take any risks on the first lap or after the restart, We have a good race pace and having a good start position for tomorrow’s final is what matters.”
Marcus and Enzo. Armstrong made his way from the back to 17th place. “We were definitely out of luck today,” reckoned Marcus. “Immediately after the start it was chaos at Lisboa and a car blocked the track in front of me. It’s disappointing but that’s Macau and I know anything can happen, so I’m not giving up and I’m keen to get back on track tomorrow.” Fittipaldi was pleased to have fought his way up to 14th place, having started last, running a strong pace and making no mistakes. “Everything can happen at this track,” commented the Brazilian. “Today we went from 30th to 14th and I hope to continue in that direction tomorrow!”