Impressive comeback Max on Macau debut
Published on 16 November 2014 by Stefan Meens
In his last ever Formula 3 race, the Macau Grand Prix, Max Verstappen showed off his raw pace and race craft after storming from 24th on the grid to finish in seventh. The Red Bull Junior set the fastest lap of the race and overtook seventeen drivers on a track that is notoriously difficult to overtake on. Nonetheless, the Dutchman was able to mount an impressive charge after a DNF in Saturday's qualifying race forced him to start from the back.
“It's a shame I made that mistake on Saturday but overall I’m happy with my performance during the weekend. I’m delighted to get the fastest lap as well!”, reveals Max to Verstappen.nl.
When the lights go out, pole sitter Felix Rosenqvist loses the lead to team mate Lucas Auer. Moments later, the Swede has to concede positions to Tom Blomqvist and Esteban Ocon in the run to Lisboa. The former tries to overtake Auer, forcing the Austrian wide. The duel entices Ocon to go for the lead but Blomqvist turns into the corner just as the Euro F3 champion makes his move. The two collide but drive on, with Ocon trying to defend his newly gained lead. However, the Frenchman's steering is broken, forcing him wide at San Francisco Bend, taking Blomqvist into the barriers. The result is a chain-reaction pile-up and the race is red-flagged.
The cars, the ones that are able to, return to grid. There, mechanics are working hard to get their cars back into contention. The Van Amersfoort Racing boys had their work cut out as Max' Dallara F314 had been hit from behind in the melee. Despite residual damage to his car, the 17-year-old youngster is able to take part in the remainder of the race, which is resumed with a rolling start after half an hour.
Rosenqvist appears to consolidate his lead but Auer manages to close gap in the run down to Lisboa. In a daring manoeuvre, Auer pulls alongside the Swede but he is unable to make the apex. Instead of gaining the lead, he drops back behind Rosenqvist and Nick Cassidy, the New Zealander making his fifth appearance in an F3 car.
Meanwhile, Max is working his way up the order. In lap 4, he overtakes local hero Wing Chung Chang to clinch P15. He gains another position when Felix Serrales is forced to visit the pits for a new nose.
“It's a shame the restart occurred behind the safety car”, says Max. “It meant I had to start from my original position, nullifying the progress I made at the standing start."
Verstappen junior confirms that overtaking is still an art by gaining a position on pretty much every lap, as he passes Dan Wells, Mitsunori Takaboshi, Markus Pommer, Tatiana Calderon and team mate Gustavo Menezes to claim ninth.
On his successful campaign to overtake Kenta Yamashita and Santino Ferrucci for P7, Max is putting lap times that match the front running trio Rosenqvist, Auer and Cassidy.
At the front, the latter struggles to find grip. Auer is able to catch up and eventually takes second of the New Zealander. Cassidy runs the risk of missing out on the podium when FR 3.5 regular Roberto Mehri sails by, but he is able to reclaim P3 a lap later. Rosenqvist is unaffected by the fighting behind him and claims his first Macau Grand Prix victory. Auer and Cassidy join him on the podium.
In the closing stages, Max sets the fastest lap of the race, a 2:11.748, making the most of the free air after clearing Ferrucci. The Red Bull Junior thus finishes the race in seventh after a spectacular display of race craft and overtaking. Overall he is the highest classified Volkwagen powered entry.
“The race went well. I was able to overtake people on most laps. I guess if the pile-up hadn’t occurred I could've finished higher”, concludes Max.
Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix – Macau – Day 4, Sunday 16 November:
Results Macau Grand Prix