Max experienced the highs and lows of the annual season-ending race around the streets of Macau, showing fantastic pace but succumbing to the all too often incidents that can make the Grand prix for Formula 3 cars a bit of a lottery. He came away having finished 14th out of the 30 drivers, but he had demonstrated the potential to compete with the front runners.
This was the first time Max had been invited to enter the race, joining the best of the world’s Formula 3 drivers and he was one of the youngest in the field. Through the free practice sessions he learned the demanding track which is an amazing combination of tight twisty sections and very long high speed straights. The 4.7 mile circuit has remained unchanged throughout its 55 year history and is renowned for providing one of the biggest challenges a driver can face. The event has a reputation for plenty of accidents and incidents and is made even more difficult by the lack of any run-off around the steel barrier and concrete wall lined circuit.
Max showed how well he had come to terms with the place in qualifying, setting the 3rd fastest lap time on his first new tyre run. The track gets quicker through the 45 minute session and second runs on new tyres saw many drivers improve their time. Max made another step up in his performance with his second set of tyres and was half a second up on his best lap when the session was red flagged and he had to abort the lap. There wasn’t enough time remaining to put in another run when the session restarted and Max had to make do with his best time from the first tyre run. This put him 13th on the grid out of the 30 drivers for Saturday’s qualification race, but had he managed to complete his second run, he could have been in the top six.
The results from Saturday’s race would determine the starting order for the Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon so Max was looking to improve from his 7th row start. He got off the line well, managed to miss a startline incident and headed down the long straight to Lisboa corner having already made up places. The first braking point on the lap at Lisboa can catch out even the most experienced drivers and unfortunately for Max, forced onto the dirty side of the track, he too misjudged his braking point. He would have been alright, but he made contact with another car and although he didn’t suffer any major damage his car stalled and he couldn’t restart it. That was his race over and any chance to climb up the order for Sunday’s Grand Prix had gone.
Max had to start almost at the back of the field in 27th place on the grid. He knew that there would be incidents and he could climb up the order, so determined not to get caught up in the inevitable first corner accident, he made a cautious start to the race. Sure enough there were incidents all around the first lap but Max avoided them to end the lap 19th.
More accidents brought two safety car interventions during the race which prevented the field getting too strung out. Max took advantage of this and staying clear of trouble, brought his Hitech Racing Dallara Mercedes Benz home to finish in 14th place.
It had been a week of gaining a lot of experience and Max reflected on his first trip to Macau;
“I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s an amazing track and the competition is tough. It can be a bit of a lottery in terms of result because it’s easy to have an incident and just because you’re quick doesn’t necessarily mean you will do well. I was very pleased with my pace and I know I could have qualified a lot higher if it wasn’t for the red flag during the session. That’s part of the whole Macau thing I suppose. If you win here you definitely need some luck as well. I’m pleased that I didn’t hit the wall at all and I’ve learnt a lot, which is why I’m here really. I hope to be here again next year and get a better result.”Click here for the Max Chilton web site - designed and built by Racecar