Mastering Macau

Mastering Macau 01

Facing them is a track like nowhere else in the world: 6.2 kilometres of street circuit that begin with a tight and twisty technical section, before heading into the open countryside of the hills above Macau and diving back again into wide city streets to end the lap.

Some of the greatest drivers in motorsport have hailed the Guia circuit as the most challenging and unpredictable venue of the season. Proving the point, the winning car last year actually ended its race on its roof.

Macau has been compared to Monaco as well, but how does it stack up against the most famous street race in the world? Pirelli spoke to a man who knows both by heart to find out: Lucas di Grassi.

The 34-year-old has raced at Monaco in Formula E, Formula 3, GP2 and Formula 1: he was also Pirelli’s Formula 1 test driver as the Italian company prepared to enter grand prix racing eight years ago. He’s experienced when it comes to Macau as well, having claimed a podium on his debut at the track in F3 in 2003 and won overall in 2006. 

Mastering Macau 02

Which is more challenging, Macau or Monaco?
LdG: “This is more challenging than Monaco. Or at least, it’s a different challenge. Macau is a cross between Monaco and Spa, because here you have very, very high speeds but you also have the walls. There are no arguments about track limits - the track limits are the walls! It’s the most difficult track in the world as it’s about the same length as Spa but with the difficulty of Monaco, and with overtaking points. So, it tests everything.”

What’s the hardest part of driving at Macau?
LdG: “From the driving point of view it’s the fast corners. From a technical point of view, the set-up is very difficult. It’s like Spa in a way. If you put on downforce, you go quick in the second sector but slow in sectors one and three. Here it’s the same. If you put downforce on, you’re quick in the mountain section but on the straights, you are not quick. You need to find a good balance between a low downforce car that’s quick on the straights while at the same time making sure that you can drive it on the limit without too much risk in the mountains.”

How does it feel behind the wheel in Macau?
LdG: “Unbelievable. It’s a brilliant rush, and such great fun. Old-fashioned in a way, but for me, the best circuit in the world.”

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