SJM Theodore Racing by PREMA is poised and ready ahead of the 65th Macau Grand Prix with all five drivers securing a top twelve start for Saturday’s qualifying race, led by Guanyu Zhou in fifth position.
A session disrupted by various incidents around the challenging Guia street circuit, including a crash at the last corner that blocked the track in the closing seconds, curtailed the session before many drivers could complete their final fast laps.
Nevertheless, Zhou managed to find space and grabbed a lap time that places him on the third row in fifth, a career best starting position in Macau for the Chinese racer.
Just behind, Marcus Armstrong was particularly impressive by qualifying as top rookie in eighth on his Macau Grand Prix debut, despite an unfortunate brush with the barrier ending his session early.
Team-mate Mick Schumacher starts ninth after the FIA European Formula 3 Champion was caught out by the chaos around him. This in turn, prevented the German from showing the pace that enabled him to top both free practice sessions earlier on in the event.
Similarly, Ralf Aron and Robert Shwartzman had traffic and yellow flags to contend with during key moments that hindered their efforts on their way to tenth and twelfth on the grid respectively, but with all five drivers within the first six rows, SJM Theodore Racing by PREMA have excellent strength in numbers.
The team will now turn its attention to Saturday’s Qualifying Race scheduled for 9.00 (GMT +8), which will determine grid positions for Sunday’s all-important 65th Macau Grand Prix on Sunday at 15.30. Both races will be streamed live on the Theodore Racing website.
“Most stressful qualifying in four years of car racing! In the beginning, I had good speed but I couldn’t do a lap without having red or yellow flags being displayed in the last two sectors. I saw that there were only two laps to go and I had nothing to lose. I had to put in some clean laps which I did. The second-to-last lap was good but nothing special, and coming to the last lap, last corner, I was fast but the cars in front of me crashed and I had to lift. It was a tricky one but I got by and we took fifth place. I’m really happy with the speed and looking forward to the races.”
“Today not everything went our way, but Macau is special and a lot of things can happen, we have seen it at the last corner last year with the two front-runners crashing, in one of the craziest races ever. Everything is possible. We have the speed, we are there and we have a good car. We are also in a good position to get the job done in the races and we are looking forward to them.”
“Free practice was really good. I was only P9 but I got one push lap well under the limit and it felt really good. Qualy was a bit of mess for a lot of people and many drivers didn’t get their lap, so we didn’t see the potential of everyone. My personal best lap was a warm-up lap, and that explains the situation well. In the last lap, I was improving a lot, I was up from myself by 6 tenths and I could have done even better but I found myself behind Mick who had just made contact with the barriers, so the lap was done and then the session was over. Tomorrow will be interesting, there will be a lot of guys starting out of their expected position. We have a lot of potential and we can definitely fight at the front.”
“Everything was going well, then I made a mistake but we were looking good, fast in race conditions, especially in sector 2 and 3. All in all, we are lucky to be P8. The car is good, the pace is good, let’s do it.”
“The potential was massive. We could have been in top-5 for sure as we have seen putting together the best sectors. It’s really unfortunate because on my best lap I caught one of my team-mates who had a damaged car. In the end, my fastest lap was my second push, then it was just a bunch of yellow flags, crashes, slowing down cars. The car felt good though and everything can happen tomorrow. We will try our best.”