Renaults Di Grassi wins in Macau 21 Nov 2005
Formula One hopefuls dominate around Guia circuit
Renault Driver Development (RDD) programme member Lucas di Grassi took victory in Sunday's Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix after a thrilling race. Di Grassi, who made his Formula One test debut earlier this year, beat Polands Robert Kubica, also due to test with Renault next month, by just six tenths of a second.
With fellow RDD member Loic Duval on pole, Di Grassi, starting third, surprised Kubica into the first corner to seize second position. He then took the lead after Duval was penalised for jumping the start. Kubica gradually closed the gap to the Brazilian, and passed him under braking.
However, several laps later, a three-car collision brought the safety car out, closing the field. When the race resumed, Di Grassi made a decisive move under braking to take a lead he would hold until the chequered flag.
"I am delighted," said the 21-year-old. "I have been waiting for this moment all year. It's certainly the best day of my career: I have beaten the best F3 drivers in the world. At Macau, it is not always the quickest car that wins, but the driver that has the best strategy. That was me today, and I am proud we could demonstrate it."
For Duval, his drive-through penalty came as a huge disappointment after what had been a distinguished weekend to that point. Having topped qualifying and won the qualifying race from pole, he eventually drove back through the pack in the feature race to take sixth position.
"I had a great chance to win today, but it all went wrong," he said. "At the start, my hand slipped off the handbrake and the car moved. I had to serve the penalty, which was completely justified. It goes without saying that I am really disappointed."
Third place went to another driver with established Formula One connections. German Sebastian Vettel, who tested with Williams earlier this year, finished just under four seconds behind Di Grassi.
The Macau race attracts the top international Formula 3 drivers, and previous winners have included Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard.