Christian Lundgaard was surprised that he could hold off drivers who were using DRS down Macau’s long straights during the qualification race.
The Dane qualified fourth for ART Grand Prix, and immediately passed Sauber Junior Team by Charouz’s Callum Ilott at the start to challenge Prema’s Robert Shwartzman for second heading to Lisboa.
He failed to make the move stick around the outside, and after a safety car restart then drove a “safe” race to third. Ilott failed to regain his place despite using the Drag Reduction System, making its Macau debut on the new Dallara F3 2019 car.
“The start was pretty good,” said Lundgaard, who finished sixth in FIA Formula 3 Championship this season.
“All year we’ve struggled with the start, so I’m happy to finally make it work, especially on a track where we need it with the long straights.
“The race itself was pretty safe for me, in comparison to the pace that we’ve had in both practices and the first qualifying. To be P3 today is something that we never saw coming, so I can only be happy.
“I knew today is a race you need to finish, so even towards the end I was just taking it easy, I had the gap. When Callum was behind and had the DRS, I was actually surprised he couldn’t overtake, I think the slipstream I had on the top two helped a bit.
Lundgaard admitted the slipstream effect was “pretty massive” but not proven to be effective, and that with the benefit of a double slipstream ahead of him “it might be possible” to get ahead of Hitech GP’s Juri Vips and Shwartzman in the grand prix.
“There’s always place for improvement, so I think we could make the start work for tomorrow [to take the lead].
“But also don’t take the risk to hit the wall, you need to be sure and confident that you can do it. After today I’m quite confident that we can win if everything is in place.”
ART’s two other drivers benefited from the crash that caused the early safety car period, with DTM racer Ferdinand Habsburg rising to finish eighth and Formula Renault Eurocup star Sebastian Fernandez gaining places to take 15th.