FIA Formula 3 European Championship runner-up Joel Eriksson has commenced his journey to Macau, where the end-of-season FIA F3 World Cup takes place next week. Eriksson departs Europe from Denmark’s Copenhagen Airport, setting off in pursuit of victory in the world’s most esteemed race on the junior single-seater arena.
“I’m extremely excited about this,” says Joel Eriksson. “Macau is the one race everybody wants to win, and I feel well-prepared. It will be a huge challenge and it’s the most difficult race on the calendar, but I’m not flying halfway around the world to finish second.”
The Macau Grand Prix, carrying the official FIA F3 World Cup label since 2016, is the absolute highlight of the international Formula 3 season. Battling it out across four days of on-track action (Thursday-Sunday, 16-19 November), 22 of motorsport’s brightest up-and-coming talents will go head to head at the 6.2 km Guia street circuit, infamous for its ultra-demanding and utterly unforgiving, barrier-lined layout.
The Macau GP entry list is headlined by the top four drivers from the FIA F3 European Championship, with the leading quartet reuniting in the Asian gambling metropolis for one final confrontation in 2017.
Between them, European champion Lando Norris (GBR), runner-up Eriksson, third-placed Maximilian Günther (GER) and fourth-placed Callum Ilott (GBR) have shared the wins in 27 out of 30 FIA F3 races this year, making them all pre-event favourites.
Swede Eriksson, Norris and Günther all got their first taste of Macau last year, while Ilott has one further start to his name having contested the event in both 2015 and 2016.
Apart from the established F3 drivers, a host of other strong names from other categories will grace the grid, including Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup champion Sacha Fenestraz (FRA), Brazilian Formula 2 race winner Sérgio Sette Câmara (who claimed a podium at Macau last year) and Japanese Super Formula duo Kenta Yamashita/Yuhi Sekiguchi.
“Like always in Macau, it’s a quality field again this year with several very fast drivers,” Eriksson continues. “I learned a huge amount last year and am expecting that to show. You need to gradually build your confidence and speed on such a difficult circuit, and it takes time. I think it will be a different story altogether coming back for the second time. I had a few brushes with the walls last year, so I know that there is simply no room for mistakes. It’s all about precision. It will be tough, of course, but I’d like to believe that we’ve got a realistic shot at victory.”
Eriksson (who retired from his Macau debut in 2016) is the only Swede to contest this year’s edition of the Asian F3 classic, which has been staged annually since Ayrton Senna won the inaugural event back in 1983.
Since then, fellow Macau F3 winners have included the likes of seven-time Formula 1 world champion Michael Schumacher, David Coulthard, reigning Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi and this year’s Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato.
Joel Eriksson enters the event having won seven FIA F3 European Championship races this season, and forms part of a five-car line-up from the German Motopark with VEB team. Joining Eriksson at the squad will be the aforementioned Sette Câmara, Britain’s Dan Ticktum and Japan’s Marino Sato and Tadasuke Makino.
One of the highlights of Eriksson’s 2017 campaign was achieved in the early parts of the European season, when he claimed his first-ever win at a street circuit by leading home the field at Pau (France).
“I’ve improved in many areas this year, but especially in my approach to street circuits,” Eriksson concludes. “I feel that’s where I’ve made the greatest step, and winning in Pau was an important moment for me. That’s where I understood what it really takes, and that you need to adapt to certain things that are normally not a factor. You need to anticipate the improvement in grip between sessions and be right on it. I really can’t wait to tackle Macau again – it’s the greatest experience. Bring on practice!”
The 2017 FIA F3 World Cup gets underway with two days of practice and qualifying on Thursday and Friday, followed by the 10-lap Qualification Race on Saturday. The all-important, 15-lap finale takes place on Sunday. All the action will be covered extensively at www.joelerikssonracing.com, which will feature a dedicated Macau Grand Prix event page – including live streaming – at www.joelerikssonracing.com/macau-gp-fia-f3-world-cup-event-feed/.
FIA F3 World Cup
All times local – GMT+08:00
Free Practice 1: 09.35-10.15
Qualifying 1: 14.10-14.50
Free Practice 2: 11.45-12.25
Qualifying 2: 15.25-16.05
Qualification Race (10 laps): 10.20
Main Race (15 laps): 15.30
On-track action in Macau traditionally gets underway with free practice and qualifying on the Thursday, with Friday activities then mirroring those of the previous day; with another practice session followed by a second qualifying showdown. Each driver’s best lap time from either of the two qualifying sessions then provides him with his position on the grid for Saturday’s Qualification Race. The driver who posts the fastest lap in qualifying – regardless of whether he does so in the Thursday or Friday session – thus starts from pole position on the Saturday.
The outcome of the Qualification Race is then used to set up the grid for Sunday’s all-important finale. The first driver to cross the line in the Qualification Race secures himself pole position, second place in the Qualification Race equals second place on the Sunday grid, etc. The Qualification Race results have no other bearing but to decide the starting order for the main race, which is then run over 15 laps with the winner claiming the 2017 FIA F3 World Cup title.
The full FIA F3 World Cup entry list can be viewed here.
TV / LIVE STREAM
The Macau Grand Prix will be broadcast LIVE at www.joelerikssonracing.com/macau-gp-fia-f3-world-cup-event-feed/, a dedicated event page set up exclusively for the FIA F3 World Cup.
ABOUT THE CIRCUIT
Lap length: 6.2 km
Lap record: 2m10.186s (S.Câmara, ’15)
Top speed: 285 km/h
Latest event: 2016
Most recent winner (2016):
António Félix da Costa (POR)