An all-star Formula 3 field including five series champions and representing sixteen nations will line up for the 56th running of the Macau Grand Prix this weekend.
The race, the jewel in the crown of the annual meeting on the 3.8 mile Guia Circuit, has a famously illustrious list of previous winners with drivers such as Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and David Brabham among the list have taken the chequered flag since the race became an F3 staple in 1983. A list that includes drivers currently driving across the motorsports spectrum.
That list was added to last year when Japanese driver Keisuke Kunimoto took a surprise win for the TOM'S Toyota team. However, while the 20-year-old doesn't return to defend his title the family connection remains with his younger (by a year) brother Yuji entered in a privateer Dallara-Toyota.
But while Kunimoto the elder is absent this year the men who finished second and third behind him return one year on. Edoardo Mortara come back from a full season in GP2 to try and improve on his 2008 second place, again with the Signature squad. Also returning to Macau is Brendon Hartley, who finished 11th for Carlin Motorsport in the F3 Euroseries this season.
The Kiwi will spearhead a four car entry from Trevor Carlin's squad, alongside a trio of British Championship drivers – champion Daniel Ricciardo, Max Chilton and Henry Arundel.
Fans of the British series will recognise a raft of other names.
Sam Bird joins Valtteri Bottas and Euro Series champion Jules Bianchi in a strong ART squad, while Renger van der Zande, who completed much of the year for Hitech in Britain, joins Alexander Sims at Raikkonen Robertson for the weekend who keep Kevin Chen in the car after his British campaign for the team.
Another driver who completed a part season for Double R is perhaps part of the strongest team at Macau – the defending champions. Swede Marcus Ericsson won the All-Japan series this year for the Petronas backed TOM'S works squad, and stays with the team for weekend, joined by a the man who finished runner-up to him, Japanese Takato Iguchi.
The on track activity which begins tomorrow (Thursday) follows an unusual pattern, especially if you are used to the two race weekend set up of the F3 Euroseries.
The F3 drivers will practice and qualify before the first 10 lap race on Saturday, which only decides the final grid positions for the final 15 lap event, which brings the Macau weekend (and arguably the motorsports year) to a close.