66th Macau Grand Prix Special | Co-ordinated by Sérgio Fonseca
The Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix is now firmly established as the testing ground for future stars, and for the fourth consecutive year is blessed by the FIA with the F3 World Cup status.
Reigning and two-time Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix – FIA F3 World Cup winner Dan Ticktum, returns to the 6.2km Guia Circuit this year to attempt what no other driver has so far achieved in the race’s 37-year history: taken the category’s most coveted victory a record third time. After a year to forget, where he has been dismissed from the Red Bull Junior programme, the Briton will face the best FIA F3 drivers, including the top-4 finishers of the 2019 season, and some very talented guest entries.
This is the first time ever that the F3 Macau Grand Prix is running on a single chassis, engine and tire spec.
Five to watch
1 Robert Shwartzman (Prema): The Russian is the first FIA F3 Champion. The Ferrari Driver Academy protégé seems to have the full package. He has the pace, he can defend and, he’s an incredible overtaker, and he knows the circuit.
2 Dan Ticktum (Carlin): The former Red Bull Junior will try to break the record after last year’s dominant win. He is incredibly fast around Guia Circuit, but he lacks mileage in this car compared to the opposition.
3 Marcus Armstrong (Prema): The FIA F3 runner up is another Ferrari Driver Academy driver full of talent, and he really loves the Circuito da Guia. His team SJM Theodore Prema supremacy in the category will certainly help him over the weekend.
4 Jüri Vips (Hitech): The biggest hope of the Red Bull Junior Team was the only one to match the pace of the Prema Racing boys during the FIA Formula 3 season. The Estonian driver’s favourite track is Macau.
5 Jake Hughes (HWA): The Briton finished third last year in Macau, and closed his regular season 7th in the standings. He is well known for his speed in street circuits, with proven results in Pau or Norisring.
A new car…
New year; new car. The Formula 3 race has been part of the Macau Grand Prix for more than thirty-five years. After years of remarkable development, Macau was designated by the FIA as the one-of-a-kind FIA F3 World Cup in 2015. It was not a consensual choice but to keep the valuable FIA World Cup status for the fifth consecutive year the Macau Grand Prix Organizing Committee had to introduce the FIA Formula 3 Championship car to the Guia Circuit this year.
Rather than continue with last year’s Dallara F317 chassis, which is still in use by Euroformula Open and Japanese Formula 3 series, the stand-alone international race has switched to the new more powerful FIA F3 Championship cars. Built by Italian Dallara Automobili, the F3 2019 is the best compromise between the former GP3 Series and the late FIA Formula 3 European Championship cars. It features a naturally aspirated 3.4 litre bespoke Mecachrome 6-cylinder engine, which delivers 380 HP at 8000 rpm. According to the FIA, the philosophy of this car’s technology was to find a middle ground between performance and cost effectiveness wherever possible.
Another focus area has been the aerodynamics to try and improve overtaking, aimed at giving young drivers the best preparation for the next rungs of the ladder towards F1. The aerodynamics were optimized to facilitate overtaking with very low ride height sensitivity, and a wide range of suspension set-up possibilities for the teams and their engineers. You can expect the cars to go even faster in the long straights of Circuito da Guia as they have been reaching speeds close to 300 km/h with DRS (Drag Reduction System)in the FIA F3 Championship races this season. The car also complies with the latest safety standards, which include anti-intrusion panels and a 13.5 kg steel halo.
The new car for the FIA Formula 3 Championship races has a bespoke set of tyres, developed for the car by Pirelli. The Formula One single tyre supplier have one compound per weekend in Formula 3, which is more straightforward, but drivers have always to learn to cope with degradation.
FIA Single-Seater Commission president Stefano Domenicali said: “The FIA F3 World Cup is one of the ultimate tests for young drivers, and we have worked hard to ensure it remains among the most prestigious events on the motorsport calendar. These cars are more powerful than the previous iterations of F3, and have the latest safety features for single-seater machines. Couple this with the changes being made to the Guia Circuit this year, and I’m looking forward to a safe and spectacular FIA F3 World Cup.”
The grid for the grand motorsport weekend of the year also expanded from 28 cars to 30.