With the dust settled at the end of the FIA F3 World Cup, and an incredible four-days’ of racing action at the Guia Circuit, we take a look at five talking points from the track.
Having finished 2019 13th in the F3 Championship, Richard Verschoor was little fancied going into the FIA F3 World Cup. Neither Verschoor nor MP Motorsport had ever competed at the Guia Circuit before, and with the track famously difficult to master, it was expected to be a slow and steady learning process.
The Dutchman quickly dispelled this theory though, finishing the first session in fifth place. He only ran outside of the top five on one occasion. His pace and composure throughout the event was a superb display of an ability that wasn’t fully showcased throughout the 2019 F3 season.
That Dutchman’s defining moment was his opportunistic overtake of race leader Jüri Vips, and the subsequent steely defence of P1. Having already cleverly dispatched of Robert Shwartzman and Christian Lundgaard on the opening lap, he made the most of a safety car restart to fire past the Estonian for P1.
There were some hairy moments as he attempted to retain his position – at one point he clipped the wall, and he locked up at another, but he didn’t allow Vips to overtake on either occasion. Perhaps most importantly of all, his braking was impeccable.
Sargeant’s stock rises
Another Macau rookie, and another who hadn’t enjoyed the most successful season in F3. Logan Sargeant’s stock had actually risen in the lead-up to Macau, thanks to a successful post-season test with Championship winners PREMA Racing. However, few would still have tipped him for anything more than a top 10 finish.
The American achieved this in every single session, before putting in one of the most exciting drives on the field in the main race. Starting from sixth, he fired past both Callum Ilott and Alessio Lorandi to put himself in contention for an unlikely podium.
The 18-year-old then began to reel in Christian Lundgaard, before sending it past the ART ace ahead of the Lisboa Turn.
In the aftermath of his podium finish, he sent a warning to his rivals: “I am planning on coming back next year and winning it!” The American also confirmed that he hopes to remain in F3 next season, and will certainly be one to watch in 2020.
Frustration for Vips
The Red Bull junior will be left to wonder what might have been in Macau. Faultless for much of the weekend, Vips was unable to deliver when it truly mattered in the main race, as Verschoor made the most of a safety car restart to fire ahead.
He tried his best to get back in front and came close on a number of occasions, but ultimately, couldn’t find a way to break the Dutchman’s defence.
He may have set a new track record in the second Qualifying session, and he will be taking the Qualifying Race trophy home with him too, but as he said himself, he wanted to win the main event, and in the end, he came up short.
An underwhelming weekend for PREMA
The 2019 F3 Champions started on the front foot, setting the benchmark in the first Free Practice session - few would have expected that to be as good as it got for the Italian squad.
They were outpaced in every other session, while Armstrong’s crash in the Qualifying 2 left him a backmarker. Still, Shwartzman’s starting position of P2 for the main race gave them hope of not only a podium, but also victory.
So, you can only imagine the in-house reaction to his crash on the opening lap, after a coming together with Christian Lundgaard ended his race. It’s important to stress that neither driver was at fault for the collision, but with the 20-year-olds race over, that won’t be any consolation.
Further back, Armstrong’s recovery from 17th to eighth was extremely impressive, but without a trophy to show for their efforts in the main race, disappointing none-the-less. Arguably, the most positive aspect of their weekend would have been the way that Macau rookie Frederik Vesti adapted to the challenge. The Formula Regional European Champion was exemplary throughout, and having tested the car just once in the lead-up, will have been delighted to snatch 10th place in the main race.
A record-breaking weekend
The major talking point ahead of the 2019 Grand Prix was the introduction of new F3 machinery. With lower downforce, higher horsepower and the introduction of DRS, it was guaranteed to be quicker, but few would have anticipated just how quick.
With top speeds reaching 300kph and laptimes plummeting by nearly five seconds from 2018, the new cars were a joy to watch around the streets of Macau. While, the identical Dallara chassis added another element to the racing, with everyone starting on a level playing field.
For those watching at home, the on-board camera footage of Vips’ record breaking lap, in the second Qualifying session, was jaw-dropping.