First job completed: Felix Rosenqvist wins qualification race | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile
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First job completed: Felix Rosenqvist wins qualification race

Felix Rosenqvist (SJM Theodore Racing by Prema Powerteam) has made the first step towards his goal for this weekend of winning the FIA Formula 3 Intercontinental Cup in Macau for the second consecutive time.

In the qualification race on Saturday afternoon, covering a distance of ten laps of the 6.120 kilometres long Guia street circuit in Macau, the Swede was second across the line, but was handed victory as Italian Antonio Giovinazzi (Carlin with incurred a 20 seconds’ time penalty as a drive-through substitute for having caused a collision on the opening lap. Thus, Giovinazzi dropped back to tenth in the results while Rosenqvist was promoted to first. His fastest lap time of 2:10.330 minutes on lap 9 also marked a new outright race lap record at Macau. The reigning FIA Formula 3 European Champion was joined on the podium by Monegasque Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing), classified second as the best Macau rookie, and Brit Alexander Sims (Double R Racing), who made great progress from 13th on the grid to finish third.

As the lights went off, Rosenqvist made most of his pole position and led the field all along the top-speed straight into Lisboa corner for the first time. Coming out of the notorious 90-degree right-hander, things went wrong for Antonio Giovinazzi and Daniel Juncadella (Fortec Motorsport) in the battle for second place. The two cars tangled and Juncadella’s car crashed into the Armco barriers on the right-hand side of the track. In the aftermath, several other drivers had trouble there as well after Ryan Tveter (Team West-Tec F3) hit Juncadella’s stationary car and Callum Ilott (Carlin) and Alexander Albon (Signature) became also involved. Neither of these drivers made it through the opening lap, unlike Mikkel Jensen (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) and Yu Kanamaru (Carlin), who were able to continue their races after respectively having the rear and front wing of their cars replaced.

Logically, the safety car was deployed to allow for the debris and the stranded cars to be removed. Racing resumed on lap three and soon after the restart, Giovinazzi overtook Rosenqvist for the lead. The Italian had a bit of a moment going into Lisboa, but managed to keep his car under control. A charging Sims, who benefited from the incidents on the opening lap to gain many places, overtook MacLeod (Team West-Tec F3) for fourth. On lap six, Pommer (Motopark) overtook team mate Sette Câmara for sixth while Maini (Three Bond with T-Sport) lost ninth place to Ferrucci (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) under braking for Lisboa.

In the closing stages, Giovinazzi was visibly struggling for grip, which allowed Rosenqvist to get closer, posting the fastest race lap time along the way. On the final lap, however, the front wheels of Rosenqvist’s car locked up under braking, handing Leclerc an opportunity to close up. Eventually, Giovinazzi was first across the finish line from Rosenqvist, Leclerc and Sims, but then was given a 20 seconds’ time penalty as a drive through substitute for having caused the collision with Juncadella on the opening lap. That handed the win to Rosenqvist, with Leclerc and Sims rounded out the top three. Sam MacLeod was classified fourth ahead of Motopark duo Markus Pommer and Sérgio Sette Câmara, Santino Ferrucci, Alessio Lorandi (Van Amersfoort Racing) and Arjun Maini. After his penalty, Giovinazzi was classified tenth.

Tomorrow will see activities during the 62nd running of the Macau Grand Prix culminate into the main event, the 15 laps’ Formula 3 race for the FIA Formula 3 Intercontinental Cup. After the traditional Lion Dance, the race is scheduled to get underway at 15:30 hrs local time. 

Quotes of the three best-placed drivers after the qualification race:

Felix Rosenqvist:

“I definitely had one of my better starts, I was surprised to be in the lead at Lisboa. When the safety car came, I knew it would be difficult to keep Antonio at bay at the restart. He overtook me quite easily. Then, he had a bit of a moment, but managed to keep the car on track.  I wasn’t able to keep up with him as in the first few laps, I had a lot of sliding, because we had a different tyre strategy. I knew that I would crash when I would try more. Then I was able to get closer in the final part of the race, but I wasn’t able to overtake Antonio on the road. During the race, I also was having some problems with the rear wheels locking up, so I changed the brake balance, but then, it was way too much to the front. I was lucky to keep it out of the wall on the final lap. Then, he got the penalty. Maybe this is not the best way to win, but it puts me in a really good position for tomorrow.”

Charles Leclerc:

“About the collision on the opening lap, the only thing I can say is that I have seen the cars touch, and it was Daniel’s car that ended up in the wall. As to my race, I was pushing really hard all the race. At the beginning, we had a really good pace, but at the end, we started to struggle with sliding. I assume that our tyre strategy was the opposite to what Felix had. I had a good race and we will work from there for tomorrow and then we will see where we end up.”

Alexander Sims:

“The weekend hasn’t been the most straightforward for us, but luckily, we were able to make some improvements overnight. We didn’t really know where we were. It was a case of seeing how good the start was and how far forward we could get. Halfway through the race, we were fourth on track and if Antonio’s penalty sticks, we are third on the grid for tomorrow. I definitely feel that I can have a shot at the win tomorrow. Starting fourth is definitely better than starting 13th. I am sure we will make some improvements, but so will everybody else. In any case, we are in the ballpark. We will do our best and keep working. We got some experience around here. Only one man can win, but we will try.”

Qualification Race Classification