The debut of the new FIA Formula 3 car around the Guia Circuit has proven to be a learning curve for the entirety of the 30-strong grid, but few more so than Callum Ilott, who had never previously set foot in the cockpit of the 2019 machinery.
Having seen them in action throughout the season, the Briton admitted that he had his doubts over their suitability to the streets of Macau. In reality, he says he needn’t have worried.
“I was a bit speculative about coming here with this car because it’s very fast,” he explained. “Now that I am here, the downforce really compensates for the weight. It is very fast around the corners and very fast around the straights. It’s positive actually.
“It is not as difficult to drive as I thought it would be, because the downforce makes it more stable than the previous car. It does have its pros and cons, of course, because it’s a bit heavier and you are moving about less. The previous car was more on the edge."
“It’s nice around Macau to be a bit calmer though and take your time a little more. It is definitely fast and the times are coming down and down.”
Despite his lack of experience in the car, the Sauber Junior Team by Charouz racer finished an impressive third place in the Second Qualifying session, behind Robert Shwartzman and Qualifying Race polesitter Jüri Vips.
Ilott admitted that there were quicker cars than his on track, however, his superb manipulation of the single-seater around the tight and twisty streets kept him in check with them in the race for pole.
“I am pretty happy with it,” he elated. “We finally got a lot of clear laps, so it was good to build off of that. Coming away with P3, I’m very happy. Obviously, the pace throughout the session was up there in the top five, so we are clearly quite quick.
“I think that the other two were very, very quick in that session though, and trying to stay with them was difficult. But, I am very happy with how the car performed, how the team did, and my result.”