In one of the most spectacular race finishes in recent memory, British driver Daniel Ticktum (Motopark with VEB) drove his Dallara-Volkswagen to victory in the Suncity Group Macau Grand Prix – FIA Formula 3 World Cup. Not having led once before during the weekend, he was there on the spot as the opportunity arose on the final few metres of the race. Having taken the lead into the final corner, Austrian Ferdinand Habsburg (Carlin) crashed with the chequered flag in sight, as did long-time race leader Sérgio Sette Câmara (Motopark with VEB). Daniel Ticktum never bat an eyelid, kept his head down and drove his car across the line as the winner of what is arguably the world’s most prestigious Formula 3 race. Behind Ticktum, FIA Formula 3 European Champion Lando Norris (Carlin) came second whilst Ralf Aron (Van Amersfoort Racing) was the best-placed Macau rookie in third place.
The winner of yesterday’s qualification race, Swede Joel Eriksson (Motopark with VEB) started from pole position. He had a good start into the main race, taking the lead from Ilott, Sette Câmara and Günther. A ‘full course yellow’ following a crash by Marino Sato (Motopark with VEB) at the exit of Melco hairpin temporarily stopped overtaking, but racing resumed on lap three. Under braking for Lisboa, Joel Eriksson saw his hopes of victory blown in a collision with Callum Ilott. The Brit turned in too early and hit the left front wheel suspension of Eriksson’s car that came to a halt only a few hundred metres further up the track. Sérgio Sette Câmara had taken the lead as the next ‘full course yellow’ was called, soon followed by a safety car intervention.
The action started again on lap seven, with Sette Câmara leading from Maximilian Günther (SJM Theodore Racing by Prema), Habsburg, Norris and Ticktum. While the German was struggling to find pace, Sette Câmara extended his lead. Habsburg finally overtook Günther for second on lap eleven while Ticktum kept Norris under pressure. On the penultimate lap, Günther, Norris and Ticktum were three abreast going into Lisboa, a spectacular move that saw Ticktum take third place.
Meanwhile, out in front, Habsburg had closed the gap to Sette Câmara and that set the stage for a dramatic showdown on the final lap. The Austrian made his first attempt on the outside at Mandarin, but to no avail. Sette Câmara then kept Habsburg at bay through Lisboa and the uphill section all the way to the notorious Melco hairpin, but Habsburg used the momentum on the straight down from Melco to Fisherman’s Bend, had a good exit out of the penultimate corner and took the lead going into R-Bend on the inside. The only thing he then had to do was bring it home, but first, Sette Câmara crashed into the tyre stacks coming out of R-Bend and then Habsburg ran slightly too wide, hitting the barriers as well. That provided Ticktum with the opportunity to get through and he went on to win from Norris and Aron, the Estonian having made excellent progress from 13th on the grid to finish third.
Habsburg was still classified fourth from Günther and Pedro Piquet, who made it two cars for Van Amersfoort Racing in the top six. Newcomer Sacha Fenestraz, sporting the design of motor racing-themed comic book hero Michel Vaillant, concluded a solid Macau debut in seventh place from Guanyu Zhou (SJM Theodore Racing by Prema), Tadasuke Makino (Motopark with VEB) and Jehan Daruvala (Carlin). German Mick Schumacher (SJM Theodore Racing by Prema) saw his good progress in the opening stages stopped by gearbox issues, but still posted the fastest lap time of the race.
Dan Ticktum: “It was an incredibly eventful race. My start yesterday was pretty poor, I wasn’t massively prepared, but in this race, it was much better. With the FCY and the safety cars, it is not always easy. I just kept calm and took every opportunity that I had. There was one, and I took it into Lisboa, going from fifth to third. When I was in that position, I knew I had to do something very special. I knew I could brake later and it came off quite nicely. Then the situation in the final corner, I had been quite unlucky all weekend, so I was due a bit of good luck. I can’t describe the feeling as I crossed the line.”
Lando Norris: “I am a bit disappointed as Macau is a race everyone wants to win. Second place is not bad, Dan did a really good move on Maxi and me. I am pretty happy with the weekend overall. The race was tough, but I kept going. The key moment was the restart after the first full course yellow. That is always quite difficult in cold tyres. I maximized the opportunities I had.”
Ralf Aron: “When I saw the weather this morning, I wasn’t sure. I knew that my pace was better then my grid position reflected. Yesterday, we managed to save our tyres, but that didn’t help us too much today in colder temperatures. I wasn’t too cautious with the other overtakes I did, especially when I saw Lando and Maxi going into Lisboa side by side and I got Maxi on the exit. After the finish, I saw smoke going into the last corner. I expected something could happen, this is Macau after all. Then I saw the two cars crashed into the wall and I knew it was good for me. I am not happy by other people’s mistakes, but I was really happy when I came across the line. I asked the team which position I was in and then I knew that I had finished on the podium.”