F3: Browning banks FIA Formula 3 World Cup Qualification Race triumph


Luke Browning topped the battle of the Guia Circuit rookies to win the Qualification Race for Sunday’s FIA Formula 3 World Cup, which also rewards the 70th Macau Grand Prix title

Starting from pole position, the Hitech-Pulse Eight driver got the perfect launch from pole position to lead through the first corner. But Gabriele Minì, who lined up alongside the Briton on the 26-car grid, edged ahead by half a car’s length through the high-speed Mandarin Oriental Bend.

But Browning wasn’t to be outdone and inched back in front on the approach to the tight Lisboa right-hander, establishing a lead he wouldn’t relinquish. His team-mate, Alex Dunne, finished second with Minì rounding out the podium finishers in third for SJM Theodore Prema Racing Team.

“To be fair that was pretty sketchy, it was not easy out there, it really wasn’t easy to stay focused,” said Browning, 21. “All the walls are coming at you so quickly and that three-wide moment into T3 was definitely eye-opening to say the least. But I broke as late as I could, I put it all on the line and it was as much as I was willing to risk. It was just enough.

“I was really smiling out there leading the race, especially when the team said ‘last lap’. I had a good gap and the car felt amazing. Winning tomorrow is what we’re all here for and that’s what I’ve worked so hard for. We’re in the best position for it, a good start and let’s see by T3.”

The race was into its second lap when Ugo Ugochukwu attempted to pass double Macau winner Dan Ticktum braking for Lisboa. But the American and the Briton collided with both cars ending up in the tyre barriers on the outside of the corner. That led to a period running behind the safety car.

Racing resumed on lap five and as Minì tried to demote Browning around the outside into Lisboa, Alex Dunne, starting his first FIA Formula 3 race, snatched second from his Italian rival.

After finishing second, Irishman Dunne, who turned 18 last week, suggested the result had exceeded his expectations.

“Finishing on the podium in my first F3 race is something pretty special,” said Dunne. “The car has been great all weekend, from FP1 until now. Hitech has done a super job as the one-two proves. Two weeks ago I didn’t even know if I was going to be doing the race and now, to be here on the podium in my first F3 race…”

Of his move on Minì for second place, Dunne explained: “I managed to nail the restart and got a really good run out of the last corner and slipstreamed up to the top two. I made it three wide into T3 but I didn’t risk it all on the brakes because I wanted to keep my nose clean.”

Minì, who started second, said: “Today we were probably not the quickest but I tried to overtake Luke twice, both at the start and the restart. But Luke left the door open a bit for Alex and I didn’t want to be the guy on the outside three wide into Turn 3, so I lifted a bit earlier and let them by. I didn’t have the pace to overtake them but we will work tonight to be quicker tomorrow.”

Dino Beganovic took fourth behind his team-mate Minì as Dennis Hauger and Mari Boya came home fifth and sixth respectively for MP Motorsport, which won the last edition of the FIA Formula 3 World Cup in 2019.

Paul Aron finished seventh, Pepe Martí claimed eighth with Isack Hadjar and Zane Maloney completing the top 10.

Once finalised, the results of the Qualification Race will decide the grid for Sunday’s main event, the FIA Formula 3 Grand Prix and 70th Macau Grand Prix. The 15-lap race is scheduled to begin at 15:30 local time (GMT +8 hours) with live coverage on the FIA’s YouTube channel. Click HERE for live timing.