The Macau Grand Prix is a must-win for any junior driver, irrespective of experience or future aims. There is a feeling to the event that is undeniably classic in aura. Set in one of China’s administrative regions amid a backdrop of apartments and skyscrapers, it is the Far East’s Monaco, famous for its narrow twists and turns.
The Guia race circuit is recognisable from a great distance and is one of a kind. The 19 sharp bends are characteristic of the event and are just seven metres in minimum width, thus thoroughly testing the nerve of any driver brave enough to take on the mighty Macau GP.
The apparent ease with which 2015’s champion negotiated the 6.2km circuit is indicative of the talent necessary to win on the streets of Macau. Felix Rosenqvist won his second consecutive Macau GP from pole position in a dominant performance which surpassed even his first 2014 victory. Swede Rosenqvist will be familiar to anyone following FIA Formula 3 where the 24-year-old will graduate as champion. His success in the series responsible for Max Verstappen’s meteoric rise made him eligible for a title defence at the coveted event.
He describes Macau as his favourite circuit; citing the challenging narrow bends and close spectator grandstands as among the reasons behind such an accolade. Indeed, Rosenqvist looked comfortable aboard his Dallara-Mercedes Prema Powerteam model as he returned to the far-eastern tarmac. Perhaps he always believed that he would follow in the wake of Edoardo Mortara by taking back-to-back victories while competing in F3?
The experienced, yet still sometimes under-rated, single seater racer has quite the credentials to his name. Besides his stunning double victory in Macau, he has twice succeeded in the Masters of Formula 3 event, European F3 and the Grand Prix held at France’s Pau circuit- an envious resumé by anyone’s standards.
So where did it all begin for a man dominant on the streets of East Asia? It is no coincidence that the 24-year-old began his career in Asian Formula Renault following his graduation from karting in 2005. After becoming Rookie of the Year in the Asian championship, 2008 was his year to win. Efforts in his home country, and elsewhere in European F3, did not go unrewarded and sits the Swede among the most respected junior racers.
Rosenqvist will surely hope that his successful 2015 campaign and a back-to-back win is enough to make an uncertain 2016 look an awful lot brighter. A brief time testing in Japan came to an end in recent weeks and his connections with Mercedes will likely not continue into DTM. GP2 seems to be the most logical step but with Oliver Rowland, Dean Stoneman and Esteban Ocon all looking to potentially step into the series, space on the grid will be tight.
The credentials are there but, as is the way the fast and unpredictable world of competitive motorsport, not even dominance at a coveted one-off event is not always enough.
Written by Katie Grimmett. Katie is a freelance motorsport journalist predominately working in single-seater junior championships with Crash.net, AUTOSPORT and Driver Club Management.
Photo credit belongs to Mattias Persson and the Felix Rosenqvist website. Its use here, and on the homepage, is merely a visual aid and does not belong to this blog or the creator.