Mick Schumacher kicked off SJM Theodore Racing by PREMA’s Macau Grand Prix in style by recording the third fastest time in Qualifying 1.
In a session disrupted on three occasions by red flag procedures, FIA Formula 3 European Champion Schumacher found clear air to surge towards the summit of the time-sheets with ten minutes on the clock remaining.
Placing third at the chequered flag, it means the German racer sits on a provisional second row with Friday’s grid-deciding Qualifying 2 session to come.
With two red flags during the final five minutes of the session alone, it was a tougher afternoon for SJM Theodore Racing by PREMA’s four other drivers after each were caught out by the repeated interruptions.
Making his Macau debut today, Marcus Armstrong placed 13th to end Q1 as the third best-placed rookie on this most demanding of circuits, ahead of Guanyu Zhou who was 14th quickest having run as high as third early on.
Ralf Aron sits 18th on the time-sheets with Robert Shwartzman in 19th, though with the latter up in seventh after FP1 in his first Macau practice session it is evident there is more speed to come with a little more luck.
Tomorrow [Friday] will see all five drivers return to the Guia circuit for Free Practice 2, which takes place at 11.30 (GMT +8) ahead of the all-important Qualifying 2 session scheduled for 15.10 (GMT +8).
“In practice, we took it easy to get going, while in qualifying we had a good pace in the first run and I got up to P3. Unfortunately, in the second run, we couldn’t get a proper lap together. Every lap where we were improving, we got a red flag. The pace is definitely there and we have so much more to show.”
“I think we managed to get in really well. We went out on used tires at the beginning of qualifying and the feeling was ok immediately. Then we changed to new tires and the warm-up procedure went well as we managed to put down a good lap. In my view there is still a good margin. The two guys in front did a great job but for sure I will try to keep pushing and fight for the pole!”
“I think we have to find something, the potential for the top-5 is there but we need a step to fight for the pole. With old tires on the car feels really good, we missed a tiny bit but it’s a matter of small adjustments. In qualifying, we got messed up with the red flags and the traffic so we couldn’t put down a single push lap on new tires. We have some work to do and we look forward to qualifying 2 tomorrow.”
“I got a little bit of understeer on some of the corners with the car not rotating too much. But anyway we should have been at least half a second faster without the disruptions. I caught a red flag when I was half a second quicker, and I had made a small mistake the lap before so both laps had good potential. If it’s dry tomorrow we can do a better job.”
“At the beginning, I went on-track with older tires and I took it easier knowing that it would be the new ones that would have made the difference. After the first few laps, which I used to find space and warm the tires, I started pushing but I caught traffic. Then in the second push, we got yellow flags and the session was interrupted. At that point, we had two laps to go. I started a really good one in the first five corners, but we got a Full Course Yellow and a red flag again. It’s a pity because we had a top-5 potential as we saw in practice.”