FELIX ROSENQVIST MASTERS MACAU
His year in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship may not have brought entirely what he had hoped for, but Felix Rosenqvist (Kashbet.com by Mücke Motorsport) still concluded the season in style by winning the 61th running of the prestigious Suncity Group Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix. In a 15-lap race that was interrupted following a pile-up on the opening lap, Rosenqvist made most of his pole position, steered clear of any problems and led all the way from lights to flag. With victory in his fifth attempt in Macau, he became only the second Swede to win the classic race on the challenging Guia street circuit after Rickard Rydell in 1992. After a thrilling battle in the closing stages of the race, Rosenqvist’s Austrian team-mate Lucas Auer (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) managed to overtake New Zealand’s Nick Cassidy (ThreeBond with T-Sport) and thus completed the 1-2 for Mücke Motorsport. Cassidy came home third from Spanish F3 returnee Roberto Merhi (W66.com Double R Racing) and Canadian Nicholas Latifi (SJM Theodore Racing by Prema).
Only one week after his 23rd birthday, November 7, Felix Rosenqvist gave himself probably the best present with an excellent performance in the Macau Grand Prix. His weekend of racing on the streets in the former Portuguese colony was almost perfect: he topped the time sheets in second free practice and in the combined qualifying result, he won the qualifying race on Saturday and finally took the spoils in the main event on Sunday. For the Swede, it was his second win of the year in a Formula 3 classic after his success in the Pau Grand Prix last May. “This is the most important one of them, the Formula 3 race with the longest history and the most international recognition,” the buoyant winner commented. “I have been on the podium here, I have led the race here, but I had never won so far. Now, I finally managed and that is a great feeling! To be honest, for the first time in my life, I am lost for words. For me, this season was the most difficult since I started in motor racing, but I have managed to end it on a high!” Rosenqvist’s victory also marked the maiden success in Macau for his team Mücke Motorsport and the sixth win for the Mercedes-Benz Formula 3 engine in the classic Formula 3 race.
In typical Macau style, the race had plenty of action. It already stared as FIA Formula 3 European Champion Esteban Ocon (SJM Theodore by Prema) and Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) tangled while battling for the lead in the first part of the opening lap, which eventually triggered a multi-car pile-up that also caught out Martin Cao (Fortec Motorsports), Yu Kanamaru (Carlin) and Richard Goddard (ThreeBond with T-Sport). The cars of some other drivers were also damaged, but could be repaired during the interruption that followed after the race was red-flagged immediately after the incident. At the re-start after one lap behind the safety car, Mücke Motorsport duo Felix Rosenqvist and Lucas Auer ran in first and second place respectively, but Auer missed his braking point into Lisboa and dropped back to third behind Cassidy. While Rosenqvist gradually built up a comfortable advantage of over four seconds, Auer and Cassidy were battling for second place. On lap 13, Cassidy clipped a wall with the left rear tyre of his car, which allowed Auer to get through. Two laps later, Rosenqvist took the chequered flag as the winner, with Auer completing the 1-2 for Mücke Motorsport. “I had noticed that Nick was going a bit slower and then he hit the wall, which allowed me to get past. Of course, I would have loved to win here, but at the end of the day, I am also happy with second place,” Auer commented.
On his Macau debut, Nick Cassidy was classified third as the best-placed rookie in the field. “Being on the podium here first time out is a pretty cool feeling,” the New Zealander said. “Of course, the aim always is to win, but a podium finish is quite good, too. I am also well pleased with the performance of our NBE-engine.” After a nice late-race battle, Roberto Merhi beat Nicholas Latifi to fourth place while another returnee, Stefano Coletti (Eurointernational) finished sixth. Seventh place went to Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing), who also managed to set the fastest lap time in the race. The Dutchman, who emerged as the best-placed driver to use a Volkswagen engine in his car, made good progress after starting from the back of the grid following his crash in yesterday’s qualifying race. American Santino Ferrucci (Fortec Motorsport), Japanese Kenta Yamashita (TOM’s) and American Gustavo Menezes (Van Amersfoort Racing) rounded out the top ten.