British Formula 3 Champion Felipe Nasr leads a host of junior track talent into battle this weekend in the Macau Grand Prix, the gruelling and unpredictable F3 race held around the streets of the former Portuguese colony.
Many of the top teams from the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series will be in action in Macau, where battle commences tomorrow (Thursday) ahead of Saturday’s qualification race and Sunday’s Grand Prix.
Double R Racing fields one of the strongest teams, with 2007 British F3 Champion Marko Asmer returning to the category in which he made his name; the Estonian is joined at Mercedes-powered Double R by Finland’s 2011 GP3 Champion (and Donington Park British F3 race victor) ValtteriBottas, and by Kiwi Mitch Evans. “We have a fantastically talented line-up for Macau this year and a really great chance of success,” said team principal Anthony ‘Boyo’ Hieatt. “The whole team is massively determined to do well - our 2006 win was a while ago, now we want another.”
Hitech Racing will field three cars also, for Brazilian Pietro Fantin and Portugal’s Antonio da Costa, both of whom were British F3 frontrunners this season, and for Dutchman Hannes van Asseldonk, who impressed in German F3.
Sino Vision Racing’s Hywel Lloyd is looking forward to his return to Macau. “The atmosphere is incredible but it is a very difficult circuit and, like all street circuits, you have to stay on line because if you don’t or if you miss a braking point then you’re saying hello to a wall,” said the Welshman. “I enjoyed it last year. It’s an amazing place, such a different culture, and it was a totally new experience so I’m looking forward to it again.” Lloyd is joined in the SVR squad by his regular running mate from 2011 British F3, Adderly Fong.
The Volkswagen-powered Carlin team, whose drivers have taken the British F3 crown since 2008, returns to Macau with four drivers capable of Grand Prix victory - Nasr, Kevin Magnussen, Carlos Huertas and Jazeman Jaafar. Nineteen-year-old Brazilian Nasr is hoping to add the Macau crown to his British F3 title and score Carlin’s first Macau win since 2001: “Macau is always a big challenge for every driver; if you can be successful in Macau then you can be a very strong driver in the future. I am going to use my experience, as I have been here before, to make a good impression on everyone. I am sure we can fight for the win and get on the podium at least.”
Fortec Motorsport completes the British F3 contingent, with cars for William Buller and Lucas Foresti, both race winners in Britain in 2011. “Having missed out on the British F3 title this season, my only goal now is to win Macau,” said Ulster-born Buller. “As ever, the entry list for Macau is a strong one but I showed at Spa earlier in the season when British F3 joined forces with the FIA F3 International Trophy that I can compete against the best drivers in Europe.
“I know what you have to do to win in Macau as I took victory in the Formula BMW race in 2009 and I also learned a lot from my first F3 outing last year, even if the end result could have been better. Macau is one of my favourite circuits and is one where the Mercedes engine should be strong, so I’m really looking forward to the event.”
Ranged against the British F3 regulars are the cream of the F3 Euroseries and top competitors from Japan fielding Nissan, Honda and Toyota-engined chassis. Alexander Sims, a winner in British F3 at Silverstone last month, will race for the Tom’s Toyota team, while Spain’s Carlos Sainz Jnr, who will next season race in Britain for Carlin, will drive for the German Signature outfit.
Macau Grand Prix timetableThu 17 Nov - 1055 (0255 GMT) practice / 1440 (0640 GMT) qualifyingFri 18 Nov - 1100 (0300 GMT) practice / 1435 (0635 GMT) qualifyingSat 19 Nov - 1400 (0600 GMT) qualification raceSun 20 Nov - 1530 (0730 GMT) Macau Grand Prix