Juncadella leads Nasr. (LAT photo)
Daniel Juncadella won a thrilling Macau Grand Prix on Sunday. The Spanish driver made the most of a safety car restart to haul himself to the head of the field of the feature race for the Formula 3 all-star event in China.
Juncadella had been running fourth for Prema early on as pole position man Marco Wittmann (Signature) raced away at the front on the 3.8-mile Guia street circuit, opening up a 2.7-second gap at one point. But after a safety car came out on lap seven so marshals could retrieve Felix Rosenqvist's Mucke following a crash at Faraway, Wittmann saw his advantage wiped away – and it all went wrong for him at the restart.
Wittmann, Juncadella, Felipe Nasr (Carlin) and Yuhi Sekiguchi (Mucke) all got involved in an epic slipstreaming battle down to Lisboa corner, with Juncadella coming out on top. Juncadella then pulled clear at the front, despite Nasr closing on him after he had moved up to second on lap 11. His win was then assured when the safety car was called out again on the penultimate lap following a big crash on the main straight in which Kevin Magnussen was launched over Will Buller's car, with Carlos Sainz Jr. and Hywel Lloyd also involved. Lloyd was taken to the medical center by ambulance for a check-up, while Magnussen escaped with only a minor injury to his left knee.
"I was quite lucky with the safety car, and I didn't really expect to win," said Juncadella (RIGHT). "But this feeling is amazing. I still can't believe it.
"Yesterday, I was thinking to attack a lot in the first moments, but staying out of trouble in tight moments was the key for winning this race. So when the second safety car came and I was second, I knew I had my chance."
Wittmann, who had briefly dropped down to fifth at the restart, recovered to finish third, ahead of Sekiguchi and Hitech's Hannes van Asseldonk.
Prema's Roberto Merhi triggered a startline accident when he got away slowly from his third spot on the grid, having been caught out by how briefly the lights were on. He was hit from behind by Van Amersfoort's Richie Stanaway, breaking Merhi's suspension, with Laurens Vanthoor (Signature) also caught up in the mess.
Valtteri Bottas (Double R) had threatened Wittmann for the lead early on, but he hit the wall at Lisboa on lap four following a safety car restart and was forced to retire.
Results - 15 laps:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Daniel Juncadella Prema Dallara-Merc 42m17.099s
2. Felipe Nasr Carlin Dallara-VW + 0.359s
3. Marco Wittmann Signature Dallara-VW + 0.662s
4. Yuhi Sekiguchi Mucke Dallara-Merc + 1.378s
5. Hannes van Asseldonk Hitech Dallara-VW + 2.128s
6. William Buller Fortec Dallara-Merc + 3.301s
7. Lucas Foresti Fortec Dallara-Merc + 3.860s
8. Jazeman Jaafar Carlin Dallara-VW + 4.062s
9. Richard Bradley TOM'S Dallara-Toyota + 4.595s
10. Adderly Fong Sino Vision Dallara-Merc + 4.819s
11. Pietro Fantin Hitech Dallara-VW + 5.551s
12. Kimiya Sato Motopark Dallara-VW + 6.534s
13. Carlos Huertas Carlin Dallara-VW + 8.336s
Kevin Magnussen Carlin Dallara-VW 13 laps
Hideki Yamauchi Toda Dallara-Honda 13 laps
Hywel Lloyd Sino Vision Dallara-Merc 13 laps
Carlos Sainz Jr Signature Dallara-VW 13 laps
Alexander Sims TOM'S Dallara-Toyota 13 laps
Marko Asmer Double R Dallara-Merc 13 laps
Antonio Felix da Costa Hitech Dallara-VW 12 laps
Carlos Munoz Signature Dallara-VW 9 laps
Felix Rosenqvist Mucke Dallara-Merc 6 laps
Valtteri Bottas Double R Dallara-Merc 4 laps
Mitch Evans Double R Dallara-Merc 4 laps
Roberto Merhi Prema Dallara-Merc 1 lap
Daniel Abt Signature Dallara-VW 0 laps
Richie Stanaway Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW 0 laps
Laurens Vanthoor Signature Dallara-VW 0 laps
Hironobu Yasuda Three Bond Dallara-Nissan 0 laps