19th November, Macau
SJM Theodore Racing by Prema endured a challenging Macau Grand Prix after misfortune struck three of the team’s four cars.
Callum Ilott led off the line from pole position, having won yesterday’s Qualification Race, but the Briton was immediately swamped on the run down to Lisboa for the first time.
Joel Eriksson quickly nipped by the Theodore man, leaving Ilott in second, as the battle intensified at the head of the field.
Maximilian Günther, Guan Yu Zhou and Mick Schumacher were placed fifth, tenth and 14th respectively in the early stages, with the latter having made a brilliant start from 20th on the grid.
Disaster struck for Theodore shortly after however, as Eriksson and Ilott made contact whilst disputing the lead. Ilott pitted for repairs but retired later on, dashing his dreams of winning the coveted Macau GP crown.
Due to the incident Günther now found himself in second and seemingly with every chance of winning the race himself. One attempt to take the lead was scuppered by a yellow flag, before Günther’s pace began to drop. Now struggling with the car, Günther fell back into the clutches of the chasing pack and the German was relegated further down the order as the contest developed.
Zhou produced another consistent display as he made progress up to eighth; whilst Schumacher’s stellar start was undone by a gearbox problem. The Theodore mechanics fixed the issue during a mid-race pitstop but Schumacher was left two laps down.
Undeterred by the setback, Schumacher recorded a number of sensational laps, including the fastest lap of the race as he eventually fought back to finish 16th.
The race concluded in dramatic fashion when the top two – Ferdinand Habsburg and Sergio Sette Camara – crashed on the final corner, handing victory to Dan Ticktum, whilst Günther came home as the highest Theodore driver in fifth.
Zhou claimed eighth, which still proved a promising result for the Chinese driver, whilst Schumacher impressed everyone with his surging fightback. Despite ending his race in the pitlane, Ilott was classified as finishing 15th.
#7 – Callum Ilott
“My race was unfortunately conditioned by a contact after the first Virtual Safety Car. After rejoining I had to replace a tyre, and then I did everything I could to recover but it was too late. This is Macau and things like this happen although it’s disappointing to end up this way after yesterday’s great result.”
#8 – Guan Yu Zhou
“I finished P8 which is still a good result to take but we lacked a little bit of pace in the race. The rear tyres also dropped quite a bit in the final part of the run so for the last six or seven laps it was hard to keep driving. I take home this experience and hopefully we’ll do better next year.”
#9 – Maximilian Günther
“It was an incredibly disappointing race. I really tried everything, I had a good start and then went up to P2 and until the first virtual safety car I was in a good position to win the race. I even overtook the leader but I had to step back because of the yellow flags. It seemed all fine but with three or four laps to go I completely lost my rear left tyre. We’ve been having these issues all the weekend: P5 is for sure not what I wanted, but it really was not possible to do better.”
#10 – Mick Schumacher
“Unfortunately the race was cut short by a gearbox problem. Otherwise the weekend was exciting and we had the pace as we clocked the fastest lap of the race. In the end, racing at Macau has been a really useful experience for the future.”
Teddy Yip commented,
“Cleary it was a disappointing result today. We were capable of having two cars on the podium, but things didn’t go our way. Winning at Macau takes everything going perfectly, including luck. The casino city just wasn’t with us this time. Despite this, I have to say that all the drivers worked extremely hard all week and conducted themselves in a fantastic and professional manner. I’m very proud to have had each of them with us here.”
Dr. Ambrose So, Chairman of the Board of Directors of SJM, said, “We applaud the great efforts of our four young and talented drivers, Callum Ilott, Zhou Guan Yu, Maximilian Günther and Mick Schumacher. Together with the other F3 drivers, they have brought a very exciting and high quality race to Macau. The Macau Grand Prix is the annual motorsport spectacular of our city and SJM is delighted this year to continue our partnership with Teddy Yip Jr. and Theodore Racing. We have shared many happy and memorable moments, not only on the racetrack, but also with the local community.”