With the Formula 3 taking centre stage, this weekend played host to one of the most prestigious events on the motorsport calendar - The Macau Grand Prix. Set in the heart of the Chinese city of Macau, this hair-raising street circuit offers little room for error and maximum thrill for drivers and fans alike. Returning to the tight and twisty streets after a strong debut last year, Marcus Armstrong was ready and raring to tackle the challenge head on.
Making his mark
Showing promising pace from the first turn of a wheel, Marcus set the time to beat in the opening practice runs, threading the perfect lap to finish the session at the top of the timesheets, setting the fastest ever time set by a Formula 3 car. His pace was further cemented in the second session, running in the sharp end and as the fastest of his teammates.
Taking a unique format, the drivers battled it out in qualifying on Thursday and Friday, to set the grid for the qualifying race on Saturday morning, the results of the race determining the starting positions for the Grand Prix on Sunday. Marcus was showed his marker early on in qualifying, with some well paced lap times in the first session. With focus and the speed to really challenge for pole position, Marcus put in a storming lap to put himself at the top of the timesheets, but with the margins of misfortune so narrow, he just slightly misjudged his line to collide with the barrier at Police Corner, curtailing his chances. With this proving to be his only error, his previous rapid pace ensured he started from ninth, despite missing the fastest part of qualifying.
Ready to battle back, Marcus looked ahead to the race:
"Unfortunately I made contact with the barriers early in the session while I was in a really quick lap. I think the pace was there, and my initial lap was still good enough for P9. We have two races, with plenty of chances for overtaking, so nothing is lost and I look forward to fighting back."
Shooting off the grid when the qualifying race got underway, Marcus looked to capitalise for a strong starting point for Sunday’s crowing race. With the blistering pace of his Prema car beneath him, he was ready to pounce on the opening lap, claiming two places as the field ran down to the tight Lisboa. But as the cars squeezed into the infamous corner, a collision between two cars ahead saw Marcus and some other racers heavily impeded.
Without any damage, Marcus was left stranded and unable to find a way by for nearly a minute. He was now running at the back of the pack and from there on in. he focussed on trying to claim back as much ground as he could. He was able to climb his way back to 17th on the grid for the main race.
The comeback kid
Undeterred and ready for the fight back, the resolute racer Marcus was geared up as he lined up on the grid for the 66th running of the Macau Grand Prix. With the victory looking just out of reach, the Kiwi certainly didn’t hold back in giving it full gas in pursuit of another strong finish. Peeling off car after car, he drove an inch perfect race, capitalising on every safety car period to scale the order. Crossing the line in 8th place, with one of the fastest laps of the race and the highest placed Prema car, he equalled his previous result with a remarkable comeback through the field.
Talking of his weekend, Marcus reflected:
"It's a shame for the result because this weekend everything has been almost perfect. The car was really good, the starts, tires, warmups were very strong. Unfortunately, I made a mistake in qualifying and then there was the pile-up in race 1. That's Macau, but we were fast and we showed we had the potential to be at the front."