• Red flags in qualifying prevent likely top three start and podium bid• Macau GP newcomer Dan Ticktum turns heads with superb debut• Ticktum takes best of P8 from Qualification Race at Circuito da Guia
Former F3 Grand Prix winners Double R Racing concluded the 2016 instalment of the Suncity Group Formula 3 Macau GP with a competitive top 10 finish for Alexander Sims at the exhilarating Circuito da Guia street track on Sunday, 20th November.
British driver Sims, who climbed the Macau podium last year for Woking’s Double R, raced through from 12th on the grid in the all-important Qualification Race to finish in ninth place and then sealed a top 10 placing in his Tsingtao liveried Dallara-Mercedes in the Grand Prix itself.
In truth, Sims should have been in the fight for the podium again this year but two red flag stoppages in the final qualifying session spoiled his quickest laps, which were both on course to reward the Briton with a slot on the top two rows of the grid.
Macau newcomer Dan Ticktum, racing one of Double R’s FIA specification Formula 3 cars for the first time on his debut at the world-famous street circuit, starred with a remarkable performance across the weekend but ultimately missed out on his own top 10 in the GP after being tagged by a rival.
“We’re disappointed with the end result but we know we had the pace for much more”, said Double R Racing team principal Anthony ‘Boyo’ Hieatt, “The second red flag in qualifying for ‘fading light’ was an extremely dubious call, Alex was on for a P3 or P4 lap both times so that was frustrating.
“Dan did a great job to learn the track so quickly and to be so competitive, he was a real superstar all weekend, and everyone knows how good Alex is. Both guys did a great job, as did the whole team, and the cars ran faultlessly – considering we haven’t run the FIA car all year we’re very pleased on that side. I can’t fault the effort anyone made this weekend, it just didn’t work out for us this year.”
Getting the weekend off to a strong start with Sims eighth fastest in opening practice and Ticktum just outside the top 10, the former was then 11th fastest in first qualifying with Ticktum 16th. In session two, Sims’ hopes of a top three starting slot were dashed by the red flag stoppages and he instead ended up shading the less experienced Ticktum by a mere 0.077 seconds in 12th and 13th.
Both drivers made great progress on the opening lap of the Qualification Race on Saturday, with Ticktum also managing to get ahead of his Double R team-mate in the sister Tsingtao green and white Dallara.
Ending lap one in ninth and 10th positions, Ticktum and Sims remained in that order until lap eight when the latter got ahead into ninth. The next time around, they traded places once more and a problem for Nick Cassidy late-on elevated Ticktum and Sims into eighth and ninth.
Beginning Sunday’s Grand Prix from those positions, the team-mates were both shuffled back on a remarkably clean opening lap and headed into the second tour ninth and 11th respectively. Sims was edged back a place on lap two, while Ticktum maintained ninth, and after a Safety Car period at one third race distance the action then resumed on lap seven.
Frustratingly for Ticktum, though, his involvement came to an all-too-early conclusion when contact from the errant Pedro Piquet resulted in a spin and damage which triggered retirement to the pits for the Double R man. Sims was able to move up into the top 10 as a result and then held on to the placing to the finish on lap 15.