Richard Verschoor took a stunning victory in the Macau Grand Prix after a great duel at the front of the field with Jüri Vips, while Robert Shwartzman’s chances of adding victory to his FIA Formula 3 Championship title disappeared on the run down to Lisboa on the opening lap.
After winning the Qualifying race with relative ease on Saturday, Hitech Grand Prix’s Red Bull Junior Vips began the fifteen-lap feature race on pole position and he held onto the lead at start. However, his fellow front row starter Shwartzman was clipped accidentally by ART Grand Prix’s Christian Lundgaard, sending him into retirement with a damaged car.
Verschoor, racing for MP Motorsport, started the race fourth but was able to jump into second place as a result of the contact between Shwartzman and Lundgaard, but initially wasn’t able to maintain the kind of pace Vips was showing up front. It was only for a safety car to clear the crashed cars of Leonardo Pulcini and Ferdinand Habsburg that the Dutchman was able to get onto Vips’ tail.
The restart enabled Verschoor to get into the slipstream of Vips, with the decisive move coming heading into Lisboa, the former Red Bull Junior getting the better of the current Red Bull Junior.
A virtual safety car – caused by Sophia Flörsch’s weekend ending with a mechanical failure – slowed up the field, but despite his best efforts, Vips wasn’t able to reclaim the lead, with Verschoor becoming the first Dutchman to win the famed Macau Grand Prix.
“To be honest, I am not believing the feeling yet!” said Verschoor. “It hasn’t sunk in that I have just won the Macau Grand Prix!
“It was a really busy race and I was under a lot of pressure, I had to concentrate so much towards the end and I am still recovering a bit. Both the team and myself are maybe not as experienced yet or consistently at the same level as some of the other guys, so this is a huge result for the team, myself and everyone involved.
“I would like to thank everyone at MP Motorsport.”
Vips, who suffered a few issues with his drag reduction system as he chased Verschoor, claimed second ahead of Carlin Buzz Racing’s Logan Sargeant, who made a great move of his own into Lisboa on Lundgaard just prior to the virtual safety car. It meant that two Macau rookies – Verschoor and Sargeant – stood on the podium on Sunday afternoon.
Lundgaard survived the first lap contact with Shwartzman intact but missed out on the podium in fourth, with racing returnee Alessio Lorandi claiming fifth for Trident ahead of Sauber Junior Team’s Callum Ilott.
MP Motorsport’s Liam Lawson edged out fellow New Zealander Marcus Armstrong for seventh, although the latter could possibly feel hard done by in Macau, with a climb from seventeenth to eighth coming after being hampered badly during the Qualifying race on Saturday by a crash ahead of him.
David Beckmann took ninth for Trident, while the champion of the Formula Regional European Championship, Frederik Vesti, rounded out the top ten for Prema Powerteam, just ahead of Hitech Grand Prix’s Yuki Tsunoda.
Daniel Ticktum’s bid for a third consecutive Macau victory ended with the Briton down in thirteenth for Carlin having started towards the back of the grid following a troubled weekend, just behind HWA Racelab’s Keyvan Andres, while another pre-race favourite, Jake Hughes, ended seventeenth behind Enzo Fittipaldi but ahead of Max Fewtrell.