It's hard to comprehend that it has already been one year since Felix Rosenqvist made his Macau Grand Prix debut, but that is actually the case - and, having crowned his maiden Formula 3 Euro Series season with victory in the championship finale at Hockenheim last month, time has now come for the recently-turned 20-year-old to make his second appearance in the world's most prestigious and classic Formula 3 race.
The 12 months that have passed since Felix took the chequered flag in ninth place in the 2010 Macau Grand Prix have been eventful, to say the least. The eye-catching performance between the barriers of Asia's Las Vegas laid the foundation for his progression from the German championship to Formula 3 Euro Series, where hard work has seen Felix and Mücke Motorsport promote themselves into the sort of form which enabled them to leave the Hockenheim finale with one victory, one second place, three fastest laps and a new all-time lap record to their name. Macau, however, is a truly unique challenge - a race more gruelling than any other, featuring a grid made up of 30 of the most promising young single-seater racers on the globe.
"We had a very good conclusion to the Formula 3 Euro Series season, and I take a lot of positives with me going into Macau," Felix says. "I learned so much here last year, and I know just how tough this race is; there is no room for mistakes, and it becomes very tiring mentally. My target is obviously higher than when I came here as a rookie last year, but we must remember that the team has never been here before - it won't be easy for us. Having said that, Macau is indeed my favourite circuit, and I am really looking forward to the first practice session on Thursday!"
Felix's team-mate this weekend will be Macanese veteran Michael Ho - the most experienced driver in the field when it comes to knowledge of the 6.2 km Guia Circuit in the city centre of the former Portuguese colony.
The entry list for the 2011 Macau Grand Prix is just as competitive as always, with no less than five current or former Formula 3 champions on the grid. With Formula 3 Euro Series drivers having won five out of the eight Macau Grands Prix contested since the championship was formed back in 2003 - and the pan-European series again underlining its competitiveness with Felix winning August's RTL GP Masters of Formula 3 at Zandvoort ahead of Marco Wittmann - this year's overall winner Roberto Merhi inevitably goes into the weekend as one of the favourites. The Spaniard, once again set to race for Prema Powerteam, makes his fourth attempt to win the Asian classic, while Macau dominants Signature (who have won the last two editions of the race) field no less than five cars in their own pursuit of victory (Wittmann, Laurens Vanthoor, Daniel Abt, Carlos Munoz and Carlos Sainz Jr.).
Rivalry won't be far away for the Formula 3 Euro Series regulars, however. 2011 GP3 title winner Valtteri Bottas returns to F3 with Galaxy Double R Racing to try and improve on his third place from 2010, with the Finn arriving in Macau straight from Formula 1 Young Driver testing commitments with Williams in Abu Dhabi. British stalwart outfit Carlin will once again be entering a multi-car attack, with a strong driver line-up including British F3 champion Felipe Nasr, runner-up Carlos Huertas and third-placed Kevin Magnussen. This year's German F3 dominant - New Zealander Richie Stanaway - will also make the trip to Macau in a single-car entry from Van Amersfoort Racing.
The complete entry list can be found here.
The Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix has been run every year since its inception in 1983, with no fewer than 20 of this year's Formula 1 drivers having used the famous race as a stepping stone in their careers - world champion Sebastian Vettel, McLaren duo Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button and a certain Michael Schumacher (winner of the 1990 Macau Grand Prix) all among them. Other winners of the race include Ayrton Senna (1983), David Coulthard (1991) and Sweden's Rickard Rydell (1992).
The Macau Grand Prix commences with free practice and qualifying on Thursday, with the same programme pencilled in for Friday as well. Each driver's best lap time in either the first or the second qualifying session then determines the starting order for Saturday's Qualification Race, which in turn sets up the grid for the 15-lap finale on Sunday. Felix Racing will be bringing you closer to the action with picture galleries, comments, results, news and reports at www.felixracing.se, with both the Qualification Race and the Grand Prix itself brought to you LIVE from the circuit through Felix Racing's dedicated real-time text commentary service.
TV broadcasting times from the event, which also plays host to the World Touring Car Championship finale, can be found here.
Macau Grand Prix - Guia Circuit
TIMETABLE (local time - GMT+08:00)
Qualification Race (10 laps): 14.00
Race (15 laps): 15.30
Felix on the most technical sections of Guia Circuit
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