There hasn’t been a rookie winner of the Macau Grand Prix for over a decade, with Keisuke Kunimoto the last to achieve that feat in 2008. That all changed on Sunday, as Richard Verschoor took the FIA F3 World Cup in sensational style, clawing it from the grasp of Jüri Vips, who pretty much dominated the weekend up until that point.
The jubilant MP Motorsport man, whose dogged performance bellied his experience, admitted that the Estonian had more speed than him, but revealed that the secret to his victory lay in his hearing…
“I was making sure that my safety car restart was going to be mega,” he explained “I was just listening to the sound of Juri’s Vips engine when he was going on power - maybe that’s a secret I shouldn't tell!
“I had a mega restart and was able to keep up with him even in the faster sectors, like Sector 4. I had the slipstream and braked really, really late, I only just made the corner, but it was just enough.”
Starting from fourth on the grid, Verschoor found himself directly behind two of 2019’s strongest F3 challengers, with Robert Shwartzman and Christian Lundgaard in P2 and P3. A daunting prospect, but one that ultimately played into his hands.
The duo in second and third were busy locked-in battle with one another off the line, which allowed the Dutchman to fire down the right of them and take the inside line, ahead of the first turn.
From here on, it would be a two-way tussle for first, with Shwartzman forced into retirement with a puncture, while Lundgaard had his hands full with Logan Sargeant in behind.
The crucial moment came during a Safety Car restart, brought out after Ferdinand Habsburg crashed into the barriers. Verschoor launched ahead of Vips when action got back underway and was then forced to grind out the win.
It was far from simple, he explained. “I think that the hardest moment was after a Virtual Safety Car restart. There was one particular moment which wasn’t nice for myself, when I had a lot of wheel spin in second gear, and I almost missed the corner and went into the wall. Jüri told me after the race that it was quite a huge one! I am happy to have kept it out of the wall.
“In general, it was really eventful and I am really happy right now."