Having started from seventh on the grid Carlin’s Lando Norris has clinched a fantastic second position following a dramatic FIA Formula Three World Cup Race as the Suncity Group 64th Macau Grand Prix took place this afternoon. Norris, who had incredible pace throughout the race, took the position on the very last corner of the last lap in another great racing display from the 2017 FIA Formula Three Champion. Adoration was also poured upon team mate Ferdinand Habsburg who heroically chased down the race leader pushing hard in some of the most enthralling last laps seen for years at the Guia circuit, but it ended in heartbreak as both he and rival Sergio Sette Camara hit the barriers moments after Habsburg stole the lead on the last corner. In an incredible team effort rookie racers Vaillante-Carlin run Sacha Fenestraz and Force India Junior Jehan Daruvala both finished in the top ten securing seventh and tenth respectively. While Devlin DeFrancesco suffered cruel luck as he hit the barriers after ten laps having run well throughout the race.
Anticipation for the FIA Formula Three World Cup Race in Macau built long before the grid had even formed with the peninsula drenched in rain for most of the morning. By the time the cars lined up on the grid for the Macau Grand Prix itself the track had dried well, and a dry weather race was on the cards. Off the line from fifth on the grid Austrian racer Habsburg was a fast starter and gained a position as the first lap got underway while McLaren Young Drive Norris was in sixth, Fenestraz 13th, DeFrancesco 18th and Daruvala 20th.
However two full course yellows in quick succession and a subsequent safety car shaped the race in the early stages; Daruvala picked up a puncture and required a pit stop to replace his damaged right front tyre in the melee. Over the next few laps, when racing resumed, Norris began to close in on Habsburg who was up in to third but yellow flags at the Lisboa corner halted the chances at one of the best overtaking spots on the circuit. When free to race it was Habsburg who was able to pull off a sensational move for second over Maximillian Gunter.
By this point in the race Daruvala was making his way up through the field nicely following his early pit stop while fellow rookie Fenestraz was looking in control and already seemingly set for a top ten finish. But heartbreak would come for DeFrancesco just a few laps later when he came in to contact with the barriers himself at Lisboa bringing his race to an end – an unlucky way to finish what had been an impressive showing from the Canadian on his debut.
The final few laps were filled with drama as Norris went to make a move on Gunter which was initially successful but also allowed Daniel Ticktum to make his way through. With Norris remaining in fourth, the attention soon focused on Habsburg ahead who had closed the gap significantly to race leader Camara with just a lap to go. The pair ran nose to tail in the final stages and on the last corner of the very last lap, Habsburg went for an all or nothing move however both he and Camara lost control under breaking and off line – both crashing out of the lead. Habsburg was able to drag his damaged car across the line to finish fourth after an utterly heroic showing of grit and determination throughout the race.
Through this, Norris took second as the flag fell having found himself in the right place at the right time and staying out of trouble. Team mate Fenestraz finished in an impressive seventh on his debut while Daruvala made his way in to tenth despite his earlier pit stop.
Following this dramatic conclusion, Norris said of the race, “Obviously I’m disappointed because I think the win was possible this weekend and it’s one of those races that I’ve always wanted to win. Second is still really great though around here from where we started. I enjoyed the weekend a lot – the race was tough, but we just kept going. Second was unexpected in some respects because so close to the end I just didn’t anticipate what happened. I saw Ferdinand go around the outside for the lead and thought he had done it so I was really happy for him, but it didn’t pay off in the end. Overall, a great team effort nonetheless.”
Habsburg added, “It was a great race up until the end. The car and our pace was strong and I was looking after tyres well – I felt like I was doing everything I needed to do. I managed to get past Gunter in a great move then started to catch Sergio ahead and found myself able to attack in the last three laps. I caught right up to him and I gave it everything, honestly everything. I knew I was faster and that I had better tyres – I wasn’t going to finish second, I wanted that win. So, I pushed and did everything I could. I’m still proud of what we achieved.”