Theodore Racing’s Gabriele Mini was the driver to beat in the first qualifying session for the Macau Grand Prix.
Several teams got themselves ready to get into the pitlane’s fast lane before the session began to get further ahead in the queue, but not all.
Campos Racing and Jenzer Motorsport, who were fined following practice for refuelling infringements, were among those to rush onto track while Van Amersfoort Racing and Theodore Racing (the entry name for Prema) waited for a gap before sending their drivers out in the hope for clean air. That would initially prove costly.
MP Motorsport’s drivers were first to set laps, with Mari Boya putting down a 2m27.693s five-and-a-half minutes into the 40-minute session. His team-mate Marcus Armstrong immediately beat him with a 2m27.312s, then Jenzer’s Charlie Wurz snuck in a 2m27.167s before red flags waved due to Campos’s Sebastian Montoya crashing at Lisboa.
The only drivers without laptimes after seven minutes were Theodore’s trio and VAR’s Sophia Floersch and Tommy Smith.
There was a five-minute stoppage, and Theodore’s drivers stayed in the pits longer than the rest again – along with Rodin Carlin’s Zane Maloney – when action resumed.
Hitech GP’s Luke Browning was first to set a flying lap after and despite sliding at Fisherman’s Bend went fastest with a 2m07.668s. Armstrong improved to 2m08.534s, and team-mate Dennis Hauger went third with a 2m08.634s before Wurz crossed the line with a 2m08.601s.
Free practice pacesetter Mini was next to the top the times, beating Browning by 0.069s. Red flags then waved due to Trident’s Ugo Ugochukwu stopping in the Lisboa run-off.
The session clock was paused (with 14 minutes having already passed) during the seven-minute stoppage as Ugochukwu reversed back onto track then drove to the pits.
Everyone improved on their first flying laps back out, with Boya, Maloney and then Campos’s Oliver Goethe briefly holding third before Wurz started the session’s second half by going top with a 2m07.353s.
Mini went fastest 20s later with a 2m06.929s, putting him 0.323s ahead of team-mate Dino Beganovic and 0.34s ahead of Armstrong. Browning dropped to fifth, having not left the pits.
Traffic compromised a lot of drivers on their next laps, but Hauger was still able to go second fastest. He was 0.801s off Mini though, as he improved to 2m06.410s.
Trident’s defending FIA Formula 3 World Cup winner Richard Verschoor reduced Mini’s pace advantage to 0.654s, went fastest in sector one on his next lap but then backed out of it.
Browning only left the pits with 13 minutes to go, by which point he was 10th, and had just started a flying lap three minutes later when red flags waved after Maloney hit the barriers then stopped at turn 16 with a damaged car.
This stoppage lasted 17 minutes due to “repair required” on barriers, and there was 9m46s left of qualifying when it resumed. Theodore held back their cars for longer once again.
Browning jumped up to fourth with four-and-a-half minutes to go, as Hauger got within 0.254s of Mini’s benchmark. On his next lap Browning went top with a 2m06.018s, with team-mates Alex Dunne and Isack Hadjar 0.14s and 0.663s behind respectively in second and fifth.
Hauger and Carlin’s Dan Ticktum were first to complete laps after the chequered flag and went second and seventh fastest, although ART Grand Prix’s Nikola Tsolov then beat Ticktum.
Mini improved to 2m05.521s to reclaim first place and Beganovic got into third before going off at Lisboa, with Ticktum shuffled down to 10th by Goethe.
Qualifying 1 results
|1||Gabriele Mini||Theodore Racing||2m05.521s||16|
|2||Luke Browning||Hitech GP||2m06.018s||+0.497s||13|
|3||Dino Beganovic||Theodore Racing||2m06.131s||+0.610s||17|
|4||Dennis Hauger||MP Motorsport||2m06.135s||+0.614s||17|
|5||Alex Dunne||Hitech GP||2m06.158s||+0.637s||15|
|6||Isack Hadjar||Hitech GP||2m06.364s||+0.843s||15|
|7||Marcus Armstrong||MP Motorsport||2m06.714s||+1.193s||17|
|8||Nikola Tsolov||ART Grand Prix||2m06.755s||+1.234s||16|
|9||Oliver Goethe||Campos Racing||2m06.834s||+1.313s||17|
|12||Paul Aron||Theodore Racing||2m07.108s||+1.587s||15|
|13||Charlie Wurz||Jenzer Motorsport||2m07.353s||+1.832s||16|
|14||Noel Leon||Van Amersfoort Racing||2m07.368s||+1.847s||17|
|17||Mari Boya||MP Motorsport||2m07.946s||+2.425s||17|
|18||Pepe Marti||Campos Racing||2m08.034s||+2.513s||17|
|20||Christian Mansell||ART Grand Prix||2m08.329s||+2.808s||17|
|21||Max Esterson||Jenzer Motorsport||2m08.429s||+2.908s||16|
|22||Laurens van Hoepen||ART Grand Prix||2m08.651s||+3.130s||16|
|23||Matias Zagazeta||Jenzer Motorsport||2m08.769s||+3.248s||13|
|24||Sophia Floersch||Van Amersfoort Racing||2m08.966s||+3.445s||16|
|25||Tommy Smith||Van Amersfoort Racing||2m09.071s||+3.550s||15|
|26||Sebastian Montoya||Campos Racing||2m44.434s||+38.913s||2|