Dennis Hauger did not have the Macau Grand Prix in his 2023 schedule, but a call less than a week before the event sent him on an unexpected path to success.
Franco Colapinto was initially the driver of MP Motorsport’s #27 car, but his recovery from collarbone surgery was not going to plan and so the team ended up needing a substitute. MP offered Colapinto’s seat to its Formula 2 driver Hauger.
“I got the call last Friday, and I was home in Norway actually, just training, and I suddenly got the call from the team on if I wanted to do the Macau GP,” the 2021 FIA Formula 3 champion and Macau debutant said after becoming grand prix runner-up.
“I obviously said yes. And then there was some confirmation waiting, so about 11 o’clock in the night I got the confirmation. Had to fly four in the morning to the Netherlands to go for [a seat fit and simulator work].
“It’s really fun, just jumping into it, trying to maximise it. Hitech GP and Prema were in another level, at least in qualifying, and we couldn’t quite keep it up. But I think we found something today, and we were always progressing.”
He added: “I did half a day on the sim, and then I just flew over here straight away. It wasn’t optimal in terms of preparation, haven’t been in the car in a long time. But it’s a crazy track, and figuring it out during the weekend more and more.”
Hauger was fifth in FP1 and fourth in Q1 on Thursday, then on Friday was 14th in Q2 but his best laptime from Q1 put him seventh on the qualification race grid. He finished that race in fifth.
“It was crazy overall. We didn’t have the best qualifying, especially on the Friday. So we had to start a bit on the back foot, but we made up for it today and I had pretty good pace. Progressively me and MP Motorsport built up the weekend I think really well, and in the end we hoped we could be up there fighting for the lead and we were.
“It was a close one, right on the limit of locking up, pushing everything we had. It was a good battle, but obviously hoped to get that last step-up. In the end I think we did a good job as a team and we maximised where we started this weekend.”
The move that earned Hauger second, on the safety car restart with four laps to go, momentarily got him into first place.
“I got a good jump out of the last corner, and after that I just tried to keep it flat and get the right tow. It was tight into turn three in the braking. We were all pushing. It’s just one race where you’re giving it your all. It was just not enough. [I was] on the wrong side going into T3. So bit of a shame, but it was a good and fun race.”