Lando Norris heads to Macau for the first time aiming for a top-10 finish in the Suncity Group Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix next weekend (17-20 Nov). Norris, who celebrated his 17th birthday yesterday (13 Nov), races a Carlin entered Dallara-Volkswagen in the annual event being run for the 63rd time but which this year also headlines as the FIA Formula Three World Cup for the first time.
The end-of-season F3 event has again attracted a mix of talented Macau “rookies” like 2016 triple championship title winner Norris but also established F3 drivers from the past two years from around the world. Such is the attraction of the world-famous Grand Prix, even more experienced drivers are stepping down to the F3 category as a “one-off” to compete at Macau again in a bid to win the prestigious title. Norris, has won the Toyota Racing Series, Formula Renault Eurocup and Formula Renault Northern European Cup titles in what has already been an outstanding second year of single-seater racing but is under no illusion of the task ahead racing on the narrow and demanding 3.8-mile Guia street circuit for the first time combined with his lack of F3 race experience.
Having contested a handful of BRDC British Formula 3 Championship races earlier this year – a series effectively utilising an upgraded Formula 4 single-seater – Lando’s only “proper” F3 race experience comes from the final FIA Formula 3 European Championship event at Hockenheim last month (15-16 Oct). Norris has never made a conventional F3 race start from the grid as at Hockenheim, the 2016 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award finalist started all three races from the pit lane due to F3 testing regulations. In qualifying, he impressed by twice setting the ninth fastest and amazingly a fourth fastest time, going on to record a very praiseworthy second fastest lap in the third race.
A high quality field of around 30-cars is expected to feature in a race previously won by Formula 1 World Champions Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard. Practice begins on Thursday before a 10-lap Qualification Race on Saturday prior to the actual 15-lap Grand Prix on Sunday (20 Nov).
“Macau is going to be a massive learning experience for me but my target is a top-10 finish or at the very least to be the top Macau ‘rookie’. It’s going to be hard in terms of a top overall finish because Macau will be a totally new experience for me having never been there before. Some of the drivers I’ll be up against will be racing at Macau for the seventh or even eighth time and if that’s not the case, then most will have experience from a full F3 championship season. I raced on a street circuit earlier this year, at Monaco in Formula Renault, but Macau is a more technical track and of course I’ll be driving a faster [F3] car. It’s ultra-narrow in places and quite often there are multi-car accidents because of the tight corners. I’m confident Carlin will give me a great car. I’ve been with them a long time and we all work well together and I’m certain their Macau experience will help me.”
Thursday 17th November
FP1 – 09:35 - 10:15
Qualifying 1 – 14:20 - 15:00
Friday 18th November
FP2 – 09:35 - 10:15
Qualifying 2 – 15:55 - 16:35
Saturday 19th November
Race 1 – 13:50 - 14:40
Sunday 20th November
Race 2 - 15:40 - 16:30
All times China Standard Time (GMT + 8)