Felix Rosenqvist bounced back from a difficult first lap in the Suncity Group Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix Qualification Race on Saturday to take a well-earned victory.
The Mucke Motorsport driver had got away well from pole position to keep his advantage on the run down to Mandarin Oriental Bend, but there was nothing he could do to stop his closest rivals slipstreaming past him.
By the time they braked for Lisboa, the Swedish driver was down in third – as team-mate Lucas Auer and Max Verstappen had got past him to lead the way.
Rosenqvist was back up to second on lap four though when, after putting pressure on Verstappen, his rival made a mistake in the Solitude Esses and clouted the barriers.
With the Safety Car called out just one lap later, to retrieve the stricken car of TOM’s driver Sam MacLeod, Rosenqvist then closed right up on Auer to be in a position to challenge for the lead at the restart on lap eight.
He immediately got in Auer’s slipstream on the run down the main straight and made a decisive move in to Lisboa – taking the lead and eventually pulling clear to win by 0.935 seconds.
Speaking about his race, Rosenqvist said: “The thing I didn’t want to happen, happened at the start – like it did last year and in 2012. I had a good start and was leading before Mandarin and then I lost positions.
“It is quite normal when you start first, but you cannot do a bad start on purpose. You have to do what you can do – it is not optimal. The safety car played out quite well – but I was quite happy with the pace. We are in a good position for tomorrow.”
Despite losing the lead, Auer was far from disappointed with a result that still puts him in firm contention for victory on Sunday.
“I still feel very confident,” he said. “I have good tyres for tomorrow and I am very well prepared.”
Behind the Mucke Motorsport duo, Carlin’s Tom Blomqvist overcame some late-race pressure from fourth placed finisher Esteban Ocon to take the final podium spot.