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PIRELLI.COM / RACING

The best Grand Prix
in the world?

The best grand prix in the world? 01

One of the most demanding tracks out there
Of all the motorsport events that go on all over the world, there are only a handful that are truly iconic. We’re talking about events like the Monaco Grand Prix, Le Mans 24 Hours and Indy 500. But right up there with all those illustrious names is the Macau Grand Prix, which has been running since 1954 on a stunning six-kilometre street circuit around the former Portuguese colony: one of the most demanding tracks in all of motorsport.
Macau is known as the gambling capital of the world, and you also need a certain amount of luck to keep your car out of the barriers. The Macau Grand Prix meeting actually consists of a number of different races, but the two principal events are the ones supplied by Pirelli: the FIA GT World Cup (for GT3 cars) and the FIA Formula 3 World Cup.

Meet the F3 stars
Many of this year’s entered drivers for the Formula 3 World Cup are F1® hopefuls, aged mostly between 16 and 20. These include leading European contenders Maximilian Gunther from Germany, Britons George Russell and Callum Ilott and Sweden’s Joel Eriksson, as well as a strong Japanese contingent led by national champion Kenta Yamashita. Brazil, China, India and Russia are all among the other countries represented in a field of almost 30 single-seaters.
The youngsters will be up against three former winners turned factory racing drivers: Daniel Juncadella, Antonio Felix da Costa and Felix Rosenqvist – the latter aiming for an unprecedented hat-trick around the streets of Macau. They are joined by Alexander Sims, part of the winning BMW crew at this year’s Pirelli-supplied Spa 24 Hours.
One notable absence though will be Lance Stroll. He won the F3 Euroseries this year, but is skipping Macau in order to concentrate on his Formula 1® debut with Williams next year.

The best grand prix in the world? 02

And who is in GT?
Some of the world’s leading GT drivers will be in action, including German driver Maro Engel, chasing his third straight GT win in Macau, alongside Dutchman Renger van der Zande in a pair of Mercedes-AMG GT3s. Audi Sport Team WRT – a successful outfit in the Pirelli-supplied Blancpain GT Series – fields five-time Macau winner Edoardo Mortara and Belgian Laurens Vanthoor in two Audi R8 LMS cars. Italian Mirko Bortolotti and Macau’s own Andre Couto will drive Lamborghini Huracan GT3s for FFF Racing, while esteemed Porsche squad Manthey Racing deploys factory drivers Earl Bamber and Kevin Estre in a pair of 997 GT3Rs. 
The FIA GT World Cup was staged for the first time in 2015, with Pirelli as exclusive tyre supplier, contested by prestige manufacturers in a 23-car field. Asia is a growing market for Pirelli: the company has added the Blancpain GT Series Asia and China GT championships to its portfolio of global GT championships this year. But few other races compare to Macau.

So what’s the Macau circuit like to drive?
You have to see it to believe it. Let’s just say that it’s no co-incidence legends like Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher have won there in the past. One man who knows exactly what it takes is Alex Lynn, currently competing in GP2, who won Macau in 2013 from pole. He was driving for the Theodore team: exactly the same outfit that took Senna to victory 30 years earlier.
“Macau is one of the most challenging circuits in the world: so fast and unforgiving,” Lynn points out. “There’s a very special feeling about the whole place: if you can do well in Macau, you can do well anywhere. It’s incredibly easy to make a mistake in a split-second, so it’s important to learn the circuit progressively and build up to speed. You can gain a lot of information from walking the track and looking at all the potential pitfalls up close. Preparation is everything.” 
So there you have it. The parallels with Monaco are obvious, thanks to the big casinos, a list of illustrious winners and even a spookily similar spelling. Only this track is even more difficult and varied. Finally, we might just have found the best grand prix in the world.

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