2012 Macau GP winner Antonio Felix da Costa led home two second-time Macao competitors in the FIA F3 World Cup Qualification Race after a cascading series of crashes eliminated five debutants on the first corner.
Da Costa (Carlin) won the 10 lap (61km) qualifier by less than a second from Callum Ilott Van Amersfoort) with Sergio Sette Camara (Carlin) third after an almost one hour delay as water was cleared from the notorious Lisboa corner and along the pit straight.
But three debutant drivers did not make it to Lisboa as they crashed , one after the other, into the outside wall of the first corner, the highspeed Mandarin, directly after the start.
Highly favoured Lando Norris (Carlin) and Max Gunther (Prema) along with Antoine Hubert (Van Amersfoort) each hit the wall.
Simultaneously Hongli Ye flew high over B-Max team mate, Daiki Sasaki ,without injury to either driver.
Da Costa made his move at the end of a four lap safety car period, diving past Ilott on the run into Lisboa setting up a sensational battle as the two drivers traded fastest laps, moving away from Camara.
Pole sitter George Russell (Hitech) was swamped at the start, finishing fifth behind Japanese F3 champion Kenta Yamashita (Three-Bond with T-sport).
Da Costa regards his pole position in tomorrow’s inaugural 15 lap(91km) FIA F3 World Cup as a disadvantage in the slipstreaming duel from the start.
“Maybe second or third starting position would be better, so I can get a tow, “ he said.
Defending Macau GP winner Felix Rosenqvist (Prema) drove a conservative race to finish sixth, claiming a third row start which could set the experienced Swede for participation in a first lap drafting lunge.
“ Experience counts, “ da Costa said. “ I was able to push hard from the start while the others took a little while to settle in.”