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Formula One hopefuls racing in Macau 17 Nov 2006

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Carlin Macau GP Qualifying Day, Guia Circuit, Macau, China, 16th November 2006. World © Patching/Sutton

Some of the world’s best aspiring Formula One drivers take to the streets this weekend as they do battle in the Macau Grand Prix, which brings together the finest Formula Three talent from around the globe.

Among those competing around the challenging Guia street circuit will be BMW Sauber reserve driver Sebastian Vettel, newly-signed Williams tester Kazuki Nakajima, and Adrian Sutil, who impressed as Midland’s third driver at three Grands Prix earlier this year.

Vettel is among the favourites for the prestigious annual event, now in its 53rd year. The young German finished third last season, immediately behind Robert Kubica, now his team mate at BMW Sauber. However, his prospects look less bright after Friday’s qualifying session, which has put him ninth on the grid for Saturday’s race, which in turn determines the grid for Sunday’s finale.

The front row for Saturday’s race will be filled by Japanese drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Kohei Hirate. Both are members of Toyota’s young driver programme and both were promised Formula One tests with the Japanese team earlier this week.

Nakajima, another Toyota protege, finished fifth in Macau last year and has qualified seventh for Saturday’s race. Meanwhile, Japanese Formula Three champion Sutil lines up 15th, behind former Williams tester Marco Asmer.

Formula Three became part of the Macau Grand Prix back in 1983, since when numerous Formula One stars-to-be have proved their worth on the streets of the former Portuguese colony. Past winners include Ayrton Senna, Michael and Ralf Schumacher, and Takuma Sato.