Marcus impresses with a top-ten result on Macau debut
Once a year, the city of Macau plays host to one of the most prestigious events on the motorsport calendar – The Macau Grand Prix. Revered by drivers, the tight and twisty challenge posed by the streets of Macau, makes it one of the most thrilling and rewarding circuits in the world. With the Formula 3 race taking centre stage as the main event, it provides young drivers the chance to really prove themselves on a world stage.
Making his debut at the Macau Grand Prix, Marcus Armstrong was looking to seal his rookie year off with a strong result at the historic event. A challenge that allows no room for error, the 18-year-old driver was quick to display his talent and pace, in only his third outing on a street circuit.
From the first turn of a wheel in the practice sessions, Marcus showed promising pace and looked to gain all the data needed ahead of qualifying. Despite the session being littered with red flags, due to incidents, Marcus took it all in his stride as he tackled a steep learning curve in exploring the limits of the twisty street circuit.
“My pace was a lot better than on paper, I caught a red flag when I was half a second quicker and I had made a small mistake the lap before, so both laps had good potential. If it’s dry tomorrow, we can do a really good job. This track is mental, there is no room for error and it definitely separates the men from the boys.”
Pushing the Limits
Taking a unique format, the drivers geared up for qualifying on Friday which set the grid for the qualifying race on Saturday morning, the results of the race determining the starting positions for the crowning Grand Prix on Sunday. With it all to play for, Marcus demonstrated his rapid adaptability and undeniable talent, placing himself as the fastest rookie in the field. Pushing himself and testing the limits of what he could extract from the car, he thread his way between the barriers to claim P4 early on in the session. But when attempting another hot lap, an unfortunate brush with the barrier ended his session early. His pace was enough to earn P8 overall, which more than demonstrated what he was capable of.
“I was fast at the beginning, but breaking for the hairpin, I just collected the wall. It was a lot of fun and P8 is a great position considering I only did one push lap.”
Lining up on the grid for the qualifying race, Marcus looked to claim another strong starting place for the main event on Sunday afternoon. Suffering from an overheated clutch at the lights, Marcus was hampered as the field powered away. But with lightning quick reactions, he soon set about chasing down his rivals and had claimed back his places by only the 3rd corner, only for his charge to be halted and the race neutralized by a safety car.
With the field bunched up for the restart, Marcus mightily held off a charge from Vips behind. Eventually the latter benefitted from a slipstream and found his way by on the long straight. Sealing P8 at the line, it was another strong performance for the Kiwi driver, as all focus turned to Sunday’s race.
Top-ten triumph for the Kiwi
Under humid conditions, the grid revved up for the FIA F3 World Cup race on Sunday afternoon. Holding position as the lights went out, Marcus stormed into the first corner with fervour, eager to fight his way through. Soon enough a safety car was called to clear a first lap collision, maintaining his focus, the Ferrari Academy Driver was able to keep his foot in as the race went green once more. Unfortunately, a dramatic crash, in which the car of Sophia Floersch was catapulted into the catch fencing, saw the race red flagged. After a prolonged period whilst the medical staff successfully assisted those caught up in the incident, the race eventually resumed behind the safety car.
Back in action, with Vips hot on his tail, Marcus couldn’t hold off the closing speed and relented to 9th place. In a supreme display of skill, the young rookie swept through the tight, twisty track with maximum precision. With seconds counting down, he left Vips with no room for mistake and gave immense chase to the flag where the pair were just inches apart.
A post-race disqualification for Vips for overtaking under a red flag saw Marcus promoted to 8th place, earning himself top rookie honors on his debut at the challenging track.
Reflecting on the weekend the young Kiwi commented: “This track is right up there as one of my favorites, but my thoughts are with Sophia and all those caught up in the incident. It’s never good to see and I hope they make a strong and speedy recovery.”
Signing off from a strong debut and a promising year, Marcus Armstrong said: “I would like to thank Prema, Rene, SJM, Teddy, Ferrari and the FDA for all their support this season – it’s been a memorable year.”