TEAM NEWS: Macau rookie Sam Bird finished sixth for Carlin Motorsport today in a thrilling Macau Grand Prix. The 20 year-old British driver challenged the front runners at the start and finished the weekend top rookie. Team mate Brendon Hartley had a strong showing in only his second F3 event to finish 12th. Niall Breen failed to finish following a first lap incident while Carlin’s Macau racer Lei Kit Meng came home 21st.
Following an impressive performance in yesterday’s Qualifying Race, BP Ultimate driver Sam Bird lined up fifth for this year’s Macau Grand Prix. Making a stunning start, the British F3 racer charged to the front to challenge Kazuya Oshima for second place. By the time the 30 strong field reached Lisboa, Bird was third behind eventual winner Oliver Jarvis and Oshima.
In the midst of the race battle, Bird lost a place to British F3 champion and Macau veteran Marko Asmer on lap two and a lap later was passed by Kodai Tsukakoshi for fourth. Fighting hard to maintain position and stay out of the wall, Bird lost a final place to Robert Streit on lap three. Refusing to relinquish his position, Bird continued to pursue Streit ahead of him, and was just four tenths of a second behind when the safety car was called out. Over the five remaining racing laps, Bird remained in contention, but was unable to get close enough to make a move, and eventually crossed the line sixth.
Team mate Brendon Hartley also made a lightening start in only his third F3 race, challenging for seventh from his 12th placed grid slot. As the field filed around the tight and twisting corners, Hartley was forced to slot into ninth place. Falling to 11th place on lap two, Hartley upped the pace to challenge the drivers ahead. On lap five the young New Zealander found a way past British F3 regular Jonathan Kennard and made up another place on lap seven as Euroseries racer Frank Mailleux crashed out. Following a two lap safety car period, Hartley was passed by Stephen Jelley at the restart, and then lost a further two places to cross the line 12th.
Team Principal Trevor Carlin commented, “Today saw some mixed results for the team. Sam was extremely impressive; he made another fantastic start to challenge for the lead before settling into third place. Unfortunately he wasn’t quite able to maintain that position and finished sixth, but in a field a strong as this year’s, it’s still an incredibly impressive performance from a Macau rookie.
“Brendon did well today. He has continued to make progress and this was demonstrated with a fourth place in the pre-race warm-up. Macau is an extremely different circuit, and attracts the best F3 drivers from around the world. I think based on what we have seen this weekend Brendon will be very competitive next year in British F3.
“Niall was very unlucky to be taken out on the first lap. He has had a good event; he was the quickest of our drivers at the beginning of the weekend and has continued to progress. I’m sure he would be a strong contender should he choose to return to Macau next year.”