The cream of young talent from around the world will contest this year’s FIA F3 World Cup after a stellar capacity entry list was announced ahead of next month’s highly anticipated Macau Grand Prix (15-18 November).
As is tradition, Europe will be represented by a number of its big hitters – including newly crowned FIA Formula 3 European Champion Mick Schumacher and last year’s Macau GP winner Dan Ticktum – whilst All-Japan F3’s attack will be led by its dominant 2018 Champion Tsuboi Sho.
Motopark Academy, who won last year’s incredible and unforgettable race with Ticktum, enters a five-car assault on this year’s event.
Ticktum will spearhead the German team’s squad as he looks to join an illustrious list of drivers to win successive Macau GP titles. The Briton finished runner-up in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship in 2018 and will again be one of the favourites around the world-famous Guia Circuit.
Joel Eriksson returns to F3 action after switching to DTM during the regular season, and the Swede has unfinished business at Macau having failed to finish the final in each of the two occasions that he has raced there previously. Eriksson’s pace has never been in doubt, however, with pole position and an early challenge for victory at last year’s event testament to that.
Juri Vips has starred during his debut campaign in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, winning four races and taking runner-up spoils in the rookie standings, whilst Ferdinand Habsburg famously fought for victory on the streets of Macau last year before crashing at the final corner of the contest.
Japan’s Marino Sato completes Motopark Academy’s line-up, with a quintet of talents giving the team every chance of securing yet more success in Macau this season.
SJM Theodore Racing by PREMA is not only the most successful team in Macau Grand Prix history – boasting eight previous victories – but the Macau outfit has also enjoyed a quite staggering season in Europe.
Mick Schumacher’s run of eight wins during the second half of the season, defined by a streak of five victories from six races, fired the 19-year-old to championship glory.
One of the most famous names in the world of motorsport, the son of seven-time world champion Michael will be looking to secure an extraordinary Schumacher hat-trick in Macau. Michael won the event in 1990 before going on to dominate the global motorsport landscape for nearly two decades, whilst Mick’s uncle Ralf also won the race back in 1995.
SJM Theodore Racing by PREMA’s five-car entry is a standout force as it keeps consistency with its multi-national line-up from the main season.
Home hero Guan Yu Zhou finished his regular campaign with a flourish after taking victory at Hockenheim last weekend, and now he bids to become the first Chinese driver to win the Macau GP.
SJM Theodore Racing by PREMA’s remaining trio all had impressive seasons for different reasons, proving they too are also capable of challenging for honours in Macau.
New Zealander Marcus Armstrong remained in contention for the overall title until the last weekend of the season, despite being his maiden campaign at international F3 level. Ralf Aron took four victories, underlining his credentials on any given race day, whilst Russian Robert Shwartzman clinched the rookie championship.
Carlin is also one of the most formidable single-seater race teams in Europe and will be hoping to end the year on a high after a relatively challenging main campaign by its own usual high standards.
Sacha Fenestraz won in Pau earlier this year, another street course renowned for its challenges, whilst India’s Jehan Daruvala also tasted victory in Europe on one occasion. Although the consistency wasn’t quite there for the pair they cannot be written off, but the team also has two further assets in its armoury.
Japanese driver Yoshiaki Katayama will be making his Macau GP debut with Carlin, and the signing of Callum Illot is certainly attention-grabbing. The young Briton finished third in the GP3 standings in 2018 but has previous form at Macau, having won the Qualification Race there last year.
Other European-based entries come from Van Amersfoort Racing (Keyvan Andres, Sophia Floersch and Frederik Vesti) and Hitech GP (Macau man Hon Chio Leong, Enaam Ahmed and Jake Hughes).
Japan’s threat will likely come from multiple champions TOM’s and its dominant All-Japan F3 pairing of Tsuboi Sho and Ritomo Miyata. Sho won 14 of the 16 races this season whilst team-mate Miyata triumphed in the other two. Add this talent to a team that has already won the Macau GP on five separate occasions and you have an Asian-based force to be reckoned with next month.
Other outfits will be bringing further AJF3 front-runners to the party with Ukyo Sasahara lining up for Threebold Racing, whilst Sena Sakaguchi and Toshiki Oyu will be racing for TODA – the trio finished their regular season in third, fourth and fifth in the overall standings respectively.
One entry is still to be announced, whilst the BMAX Racing Team has entered two cars although it is yet to name its driver pairing.
The FIA F3 World Cup is the ultimate test and talent contest for aspiring Formula 1 drivers. Riccardo Patrese, Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, David Coulthard, Ralf Schumacher and Lucas di Grassi have all won the Macau Grand Prix and the victor from this year’s stunning capacity grid is sure to become a global star of tomorrow.