Raffaele Marciello, whose performances had been fairly low key till then, waited for the closing minutes of qualifying to snatch pole position in the streets of Macau. Behind the Italian came Felix Rosenqvist and Alex Lynn.
Fri 15.11.13, 10:10AM
It is said that the past never repeats itself. However, the first four in qualifying for the Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix correspond to the final classification of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship with Raffaele Marciello (D88.com Prema Powerteam) on pole followed by Felix Rosenqvist (GR Asia with Mücke), Alex Lynn (Theodore Racing by Prema) and Lucas Auer (Theodore Racing by Prema)!
Up till then Raffaele Marciello had not really set the streets of Macau alight. This morning Kevin Korjus (Galaxy Double R Racing) and Tom Blomqvist (Fortec Motorsports) seemed to have found their marks on the circuit promising a hotly-disputed qualifying session, while the Italian hadn’t finished in the top 5 in any of the practices!
In the afternoon every driver’s aim was to do better than the benchmark time set the previous day by Felix Rosenqvist. Luis Felipe Derani (Fortec Motorsports) was the first to go for it and the Brazilian took provisional pole until beaten by Tom Blomqvist. Three red flags broke up the session and with only 10 minutes to go Raffaele Marciello was only 10th.
In the dying seconds of this thrilling session the reigning FIA Formula 3 European Champion let his talent do the talking and set the quickest time in 2.11.555. “I wasn’t holding back but I kept something in reserve till then on purpose,” smiled the Ferrari Driver Academy protégé.
“I still gave myself a safety margin as the one thing I didn’t want to do was to hit the guardrail. My team and I did a great job and being familiar with this circuit I know overall where the limits are. I put in a good lap. I took advantage of slipstreaming at the right time. Even so it’s not going to be an easy race as in addition to the usual Macau traps, the long straight isn’t favourable to the pole sitter especially at the start. You have to have a good race on Saturday, but it’s on Sunday that it’s really important to finish first. Before, it doesn’t really mean much.”
Rivals that Raffaele Marciello knows well, starting with Felix Rosenqvist, will surround him. “It was pretty close,” acknowledged the Swede. “I had a good lap with good slipstreaming. The second sector went off well, but I lost time in the last two corners as maybe I overdrove. I thought I’d clinched pole but Raffaele went one better. Victory is still within my grasp. I think that the first four are in with a chance. It all hinges on a good start.”
Alex Lynn and Lucas Auer, third and fourth, will really go for it like the winner of the 2012 Macau Grand Prix, Antonio Felix da Costa (Carlin), who finished fifth in qualifying, but is determined to fight his way to the front. The start of the qualifying race will be given at 14h00 on Saturday. The result will decide the grid for the 60th Macau Grand Prix counting for the FIA Formula 3 Intercontinental Cup on Sunday at 15h30.