Free practice action signals FIA racing’s return to Macau


The FIA Formula 3 and GT World Cups are go for 2023 with the first track action on the legendary Guia Circuit, venue for the 70th Macau Grand Prix, taking place this morning

FIA racing is returning to Macau for the first time since 2019 and the free practice sessions for the F3 and GT drivers provided those with previous experience of the street track the chance to reacclimatise to the demanding layout. For the hordes of rookies competing, it was their first opportunity to sample the 6.120-kilometre course.

They include Gabriele Minì, who was the quickest of the FIA Formula 3 World Cup contenders in a time of 2m06.861s as fellow Macau newcomer Luke Browning went second fastest for Hitech Pulse-Eight, 0.429s slower than the SJM Theodore Prema Racing driver. Trident Motorsport’s Richard Verschoor, who is chasing back-to-back FIA Formula 3 World Cup victories, was third, followed by MP Motorsport duo Mari Boya and Dennis Hauger.

“It was very tricky and when we saw the track on the out lap it was amazing of course,” the 18-year-old Italian Minì (above) said. “But it was really tricky, not only the design of the track but the bumps that are in the middle. It was not so easy, but the car was quite good, and I managed to set a competitive lap time. I found myself lucky with red flags and traffic. In the end it was a good session.”

Laurens van Hoepen caused the 40-minute session to be red-flagged after he crashed at Lisboa Corner. Alex Dunne spun at the same turn but continued without damage.

Raffaele Marciello (below) set a rapid pace in the 30-minute Free Practice 1 for the FIA GT World Cup. Driving a Mercedes-AMG GT3, the 2019 race winner clocked a 2m16.150s best for Mercedes-AMG Team Landgraf with a late run, as Laurens Vanthoor (TORO Racing Porsche 911 GT3R (992) went second fastest on a 2m16.397s.

“It was a good first session for us, I think I had a bit of an advantage because I was here last year [competing in the local GT Cup event], and some other drivers have not been here for three or four years,” said 28-yaer-old.

“The car is behaving well, the team is working well. It’s a good start but the weekend is still long so we will keep working and we will see after. But it’s really great to be back!” he concluded.

Gold-ranked Matteo Cairoli impressed by breaking into the top three in an Absolute Racing Porsche, posting a 2m16.593s lap.

There was drama with five minutes of the session run when Daniel Serra ran out of road rounding the Melco Hairpin and nudged the tyre barrier. With his Harmony Racing Ferrari stranded, the pursuing Alessio Picariello and Kévin Estre had to come to a sudden halt. The track was briefly blocked while volunteer marshals worked to recover Serra’s 296 GT3 and clear the track.

Estre was further delayed with 18 minutes to run when he ran into the tyre barrier on the outside of the tight Police right-hand turn. Hong Kong racer Marchy Lee suffered an early setback when he stopped on track during the opening minutes of the session.

FIA Formula 3 World Cup Qualifying 1 is next from 15:15 local time followed by FIA GT World Cup Free Practice 2 from 16:10. F3 qualifying will be streamed live on the FIA’s YouTube channel. Click HERE for live timing.