Macau Grand Prix
Venue: Guia Circuit (China) | Date: 14 November 2013 | Weather: Overcast
By Mattias Persson
Felix bagged provisional pole position for Saturday's Macau Grand Prix Qualification Race by toppling 2012 winner António Félix da Costa thanks to a blistering middle sector in the first of the weekend's two qualifying sessions on Thursday afternoon.
Proving categorically to have put his morning free practice shunt behind him, Felix was a regular feature at the top of the timesheets throughout the 30-minute session, holding first place after the first series of runs.
He was then demoted to second by a charging Félix da Costa as the final burst of new-tyre runs got underway, but quickly fired back by overturning a 0.5-second deficit through Sector 1 (where, unlike his Portuguese rival, he did not enjoy a slipstream on the flat-out run towards Lisboa) and grabbing provisional pole by 0.111s as he crossed the line.
The dramatic recovery was staged thanks to a massive 0.7s advantage over the rest of the field in the twisting mountain section of the Guia street circuit, with Felix then going another three tenths faster on his following lap only for that attempt to be interrupted by a red flag halfway around.
With Felix and Félix da Costa enjoying a 0.3s cushion over their rivals, the outcome effectively marks a continuation of the 2012 Macau Grand Prix, where the duo ran away to battle for victory.
Felix's Mücke Motorsport team-mates Yuhi Sekiguchi and Dennis van de Laar qualified 15th and 24th respectively; Sekiguchi 1.8s off the pace, and van de Laar being 3.7s slower than Felix.
The grid for Saturday's Qualification Race will be finalised following the outcome of second qualifying, which takes place tomorrow and hands all drivers a second chance to improve their respective lap times. The Qualification Race line-up is formed on the basis of each competitor's fastest effort, regardless of in which of the two qualifying sessions it is set.
QUOTE | FELIX
"Not too bad! The crash this morning meant that I had to run on new tyres from the start of qualifying, which wasn't what we would have preferred to do - the ideal thing would probably have been to use an old set for the first half of the session, and then bolt the new ones on towards the end once the track had rubbered in. Considering that, to do a 2m12.7s lap shows that we've got some good potential - particularly since I didn't get a tow on the run to Lisboa and lost half a second in Sector 1.
"The car feels truly, truly great in the mountain section, however, and our pace there was the key to this result. I didn't expect the advantage over the others to be quite so big, but I'll take it any day of the week! We have set ourselves up well for tomorrow, but there's every possibility that times will become even faster by then and I'm the last person to take anything for granted.
"Just looking at myself, I think there is quite a lot of time still to find - at least half a second from pure slipstreaming, and then I did hold back a little bit today. The lap wasn't fantastic, and I'm sure there are others on the grid who feel the same way about theirs. My target is to start the Qualification Race from one of the front two rows, and we have taken a step towards that today."
Results (top five)
View full results
||GR Asia with Mücke-Mercedes
|António Félix da Costa
||ThreeBond with T-Sport-Nissan