The Macau Grand Prix is a very special way to end the racing season and for many it has been the start of stellar careers. Red Bull Junior Max Verstappen does not need Macau success to propel him onto the world stage as the 17-year-old Dutchman is already assured of his 2015 F1 seat with Scuderia Toro Rosso but it would be a wonderful trophy to stand beside the Zandvoort 'Masters of Formula 3' title that he took earlier this year.
Of course he also scored ten victories, more than anyone else, on his way to third in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship and lines up again against the same opposition in the orient as well as a number of other top up-and-coming drivers. It has been an incredible debut open wheel season and the Van Amersfoort Racing team are well prepared to take on the 6.120 km (3.803 mi) street circuit.
Getting ready for Macau in Germany
Two days of testing at the Lausitzring on October 21st and 22nd were used to by the team as preparation, with the car running as it will in Macau. “On the Macau street course a completely different set-up is required,” explained Verstappen. “We'll be running a lot less wing which means a lot less downforce. In addition we'll be driving on Yokohama tyres instead of the Hankooks used in the European championship. So the set-up of the car changes dramatically.”
“During my very first F3 test in December 2013 at Valencia, I drove on Yokohamas as well. The tyres are a lot softer than the Hankooks which means they wear off quicker. You don’t really need to alter your driving style over a single lap, but you have to adapt for longer runs and the race.”
Not inconveniently it rained on day 2 of the test so Max was also able to familiarise himself with the Yokohama rain tyres.
Learning the track in Britain
The next part of the preparation was the Red Bull Racing simulator in Milton Keynes, “It's a tough track with several blind corners so I'm happy to have had a go here before I hit the track in my F3 racer. It takes a while to get up to speed on the Macau circuit, but in the end it went well,” enthused Verstappen.
He knows that no matter how well prepared on another circuit and in the simulator, learning the real thing will not be easy. “For sure it is a difficult event and a difficult track. There is a bit of track time and the important thing is to learn it and make progress without crashing the car. It is not a place to make mistakes and I enjoy that sort of track.”
A unique race
It has often been said that the Macau Grand Prix chooses it's own winner, so fickle is the event, so easy to make a race-ending-mistake and so likely that another driver's error can destroy the hopes of the innocent.
“Of course the qualifying and qualifying race are crucial, it is never easy to pass on a tight street circuit. In racing having a bit of luck is never a bad thing but I hope that in the end the fastest driver wins,” concludes Verstappen.
Macau weekend schedule – all times CST (China Standard Time) 7 hours ahead of CET
Thursday November 13th
10.55 to 11.35 Practice
14.45 to 15.25 Qualifying
Friday November 14th
11.10 to 11.50 Practice
14.05 to 14.45 Qualifying
Saturday November 15th
13:45 to 14:35 Qualification Race - 10 laps
Sunday November 16th
15:30 to 16:30 Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix - 15 laps
More information on the Macau Grand Prix is available: