Schumacher, Ticktum and Armstrong set for battle in FIA F3 European Championship Hockenheim finale
Whilst the entry list ahead of this year’s 65th Macau Grand Prix continues to take shape there is little doubt that a vast majority of the firepower will be coming from Europe.
All eyes will soon turn to the Blue Riband event at the iconic Guia Circuit but beforehand there is the small matter of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship showdown at Hockenheim in Germany this coming weekend (13/14 October).
Series leader Mick Schumacher returns to home soil with momentum on his side following a spectacular run of form that has seen the Prema Theodore Racing driver accumulate eight victories during the second half of the season, defined by a streak of five wins from the last six races.
The 19-year-old’s efforts place him in an advantageous position as one of three drivers mathematically capable of clinching the FIA F3 European Championship title this weekend. With 75 points still available, Schumacher is 49 points clear of Motopark’s Dan Ticktum, while Prema Theodore Racing stablemate Marcus Armstrong is 69 points adrift.
Title glory notwithstanding, Schumacher would arguably be one of the favourites to achieve success at the Macau Grand Prix next month. After recording the fastest lap last year, Schumacher would be attempting to emulate his father Michael, who at 21-years-old won the 1990 edition of the classic street race.
Nevertheless, with 11 drivers stepping atop the podium in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship this season, Schumacher is just one of several likely Macau-bound competitors considered in the hunt for one of motor racing’s most treasured prizes.
Perhaps favourite of all is Ticktum, who could return to Macau as ‘defending champion’ following an extraordinary win on his debut in 2017. It was a headline-grabbing performance that set a solid foundation for his subsequent 2018 Formula 3 European Championship title bid with Motopark and the Briton could now come full circle with back-to-back victories at Macau.
Armstrong heads into the final round of the FIA F3 European Championship looking to consolidate his top three spot in the overall standings. The New Zealander faces tough opposition for ‘top overall rookie’ status though from Estonia’s Juri Vips and Robert Shwartzman from Russia, who are a mere 17 and 18 points behind respectively.
In the designated Rookie Championship, however, Shwartzman is on course for the trophy after moving 48.5 points clear of Vips. All three drivers could make their Macau Grand Prix debuts next month where they have the opportunity to fly the flag as the first winners hailing from their respective nations.
Other European-based drivers looking to build momentum ahead of the Macau Grand Prix, include last year’s podium man Ralf Aron, already a four-time race winner in 2018. In stark contrast, Alex Palou – who sits just behind Aron in the overall standings – is eyeing up a first victory in Germany as the only driver inside the top ten yet to taste the winners’ champagne.
After clinching the 2017 drivers’ title with Lando Norris at the Hockenheimring, twelve months on and Carlin will attempt to end 2018 on a high with Jehan Daruvala, Sascha Fenestraz and Ferdinand Habsburg before heading out to Asia, where the latter infamously came to within metres of victory only to crash out at the final bend.
Whatever the outcome this weekend, it is sure to whet the appetite ahead of this year’s Macau Grand Prix. The touch paper will be further lit when the full entry list for the 65th Macau Grand Prix is announced next week (18 October).