Edoardo Mortara cruised to an easy victory at Macau in this morning Formula 3 qualifying race.
The Italian had qualified his Signature Racing machine on pole position in the delayed qualifying session ahead of Valterri Bottas.
The 21-year-old Finn attempted a short-lived attack on Mortara into the opening couple of kinks, but as they approached the tight Lisboa corner, Mortara had the lead sown up.
Bottas’ run in 2nd place was short lived though as Germany’s Daniel Abt nosed his way passed the Finn on the circuits fast straights.
Things were rather less calm behind the leaders. As field stormed through the opening fast section, both James Calado and Alexander Sims lost their rear ends exiting Mandarin Bend, causing both to spin and hit the wall – Calado especially hard. The British Formula 3 runner gave the Armco a hefty whack, leaving him with a stiff neck, but thankfully no other injuries – both drivers retired on the spot. Following the wreck, Calado concluded that:
“I came through the fast right kink before Lisboa, which is usually easy flat – like Woodcote at Silverstone – and just lost the rear at 160mph. I went into the barrier and don’t know what happened. There was a big impact, which launched me 200m further down the road, and left me and Sims with half a car each. It caught me by surprise. I shunted into the barrier at one of the easiest corners on the track.”
Sadly, Calado’s rear wheel was stripped from his Formula 3 machine and smashed into the front wing of Oli Webb’s Fortec Motorsport car. With no front end grip, the British driver ploughed helplessly into the barriers at Lisboa.
On a circuit where grip was not a premium, the Formula 3 youngsters were certainly being caught out. By the third lap, Britain had lost the fourth of its five entrants, as Hywel Lloyd planted his Manor car into the barriers – again at Lisboa corner.
One man who was certainly not being caught out was Laurens Vanthoor. The Signature driver had been running 4th by the end of the first tour, but moves on Bottas (lap 2) and Abt (lap 3) saw the Belgian move into the top 2.
Abt defended his place vigorously – perhaps too vigorously as the he weaved across the front of Vanthoor on the fast Mandarin Oriental straight. It would earn Abt a warning for dangerous driving. Bottas, meanwhile, fell further down the order, while GP3 ace Roberto Mehri sneaked passed the Finn into 4th position – it was clear that while Bottas had a good car through Macau’s tighter sections, there simply wasn’t enough speed on the straights. Bottas later reflected that:
“We got a bit unlucky with the slipstream. We need to find a solution with the straight-line. In the mountain section I was really quick, but there is nowhere to overtake. The car felt really good; there are no problems.”
By the halfway point, Mortara had secured a 3.5 second lead and for the rest of the event, it would generally stay in that region – the Italian neither felt the need to extend, nor was he truly threatened by the following Vanthoor.
With the top 2 positions seemingly secured, Mehri made some very aggressive moves for 3rd on Abt, eventually gaining the place with two-and-a-half laps remaining.
The position was not so secure though. Within a lap, it was Mehri under pressure and the Spaniard relented on the approach to the braking point at Lisboa. Indeed Mehri lost not one, but two places – firstly to Abt and then Bottas as Mehri seemed to brake ever so softly into the turn.
Unfortunately for Mehri, outside circumstances had dictated his fall down the order – a slow puncture had also damaged his suspension and by the chequered flag, the Spaniard had dropped to 22nd position. A disappointed Mehri confessed:
“I don’t know what happened, we need to check the data. It’s a shame, because I was really quick and to win the race was not impossible, but now I’m starting from the back.”
Unaware and unconcerned by Mehri’s issues, Edoardo Mortara sailed to victory, leaving him to start on pole position for tomorrow’s Feature Race. A delighted Mortara said later:
“My start was really good, but at the same time Bottas was side by side with me on the first straight. After that, I was pretty safe. I was a bit pushed but nothing happened really – and I just put the cruise control on and went away.”
Vanthoor crossed the line 2nd to give him a front row start, while Abt (3rd) and Bottas (4th) claim the second row of the grid.
The race was quite uneventful for those that followed. Marco Wittmann secured an unperturbed 5th position ahead of Renger van der Zande (6th), Jean-Eric Vergne (7th) and Carlos Huertas. William Buller was the sole British runner at the end – the Formula 3 driver took the chequered flag in 19th.
The order of finishing will be how the grid lines up for tomorrow morning’s race.
Race Rating: 2 out 5
Qualifying Race, Formula 3 Grand Prix of Macau (November 20th)
|4.||Valtteri Bottas||Prema Powerteam||+9.647|
|6.||Renger van der Zande||Motopark Academy||+20.001|
|8.||Carlos Huertas||Hitech Racing||+21.312|
|9.||Antonio Felix da Costa||Carlin||+26.268|
|10.||Daniel Juncadella||Prema Powerteam||+27.576|
|11.||Felix Rosenqvist||Performance Racing||+31.265|
|12.||Felipe Nasr||Raikkonen Robertson Racing||+35.510|
|14.||Rio Haryanto||Raikkonen Robertson Racing||+43.046|
|15.||Lucas Foresti||Fortec Motorsport||+50.375|
|16.||Carlos Munoz||Hitech Racing||+50.894|
|19.||William Buller||Fortec Motorsport||+53.481|
|20.||Yuhi Sekiguchi||Three Bond Racing||+53.732|
|21.||Hideki Yamauchi||Hanashima Racing||+53.956|
|22.||Roberto Merhi||Prema Powerteam||+55.035|
|23.||Adderly Fong||Sino Vision Racing||+56.503|
|24.||Michael Ho||Raikkonen Robertson Racing||+1:03.691|
|25.||Kimiya Sato||Motopark Academy||+1 Lap|
|Did not finish|
|26.||Alexandre Imperatori||Toda Racing/KCMG||+2 Laps|
|27.||Hywel Lloyd||CF Racing/Manor Motorsport||+8 Laps|
|28.||Oliver Webb||Fortec Motorsport||+10 Laps|
|29.||James Calado||Carlin||+10 Laps|
|30.||Alexander Sims||Raikkonen Robertson Racing||+10 Laps|