2001 Macau Grand Prix
|Date||18 November 2001|
|Location||Guia Circuit, Macau|
|Course||Temporary street circuit|
6.120 km (3.803 mi)
|Distance||30 laps, 165.27 km (102.69 mi)|
|Driver||Björn Wirdheim||Prema Powerteam|
|Second||Björn Wirdheim||Prema Powerteam|
|Driver||Derek Hayes||Derek Hayes|
|Second||Benoît Tréluyer||Mugen x Dome Project|
|Third||Björn Wirdheim||Prema Powerteam|
The 2001 Macau Grand Prix (officially the 48th Macau Grand Prix) was a motor race for Formula Three cars that was held on the streets of Macau on 18 November 2001. Unlike other races, such as the Masters of Formula 3, the 2001 Macau Grand Prix was not a part of any Formula Three championship, but was open to entries from all Formula Three championships. The race was divided into two aggregate legs lasting 15 laps each: one in the morning and the afternoon. The overall winner was the driver who completed all 30 laps in the shortest amount of time. The 2001 edition was the 48th running of the Macau Grand Prix and the 19th for Formula Three cars.
The Grand Prix was won by Carlin Motorsport driver Takuma Sato, having begun the first leg of the race from second place. Sato overtook pole position starter Björn Wirdheim of Prema Powerteam at the start of the first leg and he pulled way to win and started the second leg from the first position. He was unchallenged throughout the second leg to claim victory in his second appearance in Macau and he was the first Japanese driver in history to win the Macau Grand Prix outright. Second place went to Mugen x Dome Project's Benoît Tréluyer and Wirdheim completed the overall podium in third place.
Background and entry list
The Macau Grand Prix was started in 1954 by local car enthusiasts Fernando de Macedo Pinto, Carlos da Silva and Paulo Antas as a treasure hunt around the enclave's streets. Shortly after, it was suggested the hunt's track could host a professional race for local motoring enthusiasts. The race was first entered in the FIA's international motor racing calendar in 1960 and the regulations were amended to allow sports and grand touring cars to compete. The Grand Prix attracted further exposure amongst professional racing teams following Mauro Bianchi's victory in the 1966 edition. Formula Pacific regulations were introduced in 1974. Since the 1983 edition, the event has been a Formula Three race after organiser Barry Bland updated the regulations. That has seen the Grand Prix's reputation in the motorsport world greatly increase; it attracts the world's best young drivers, who consider the race as a reputation forger. Macau is considered a stepping stone to higher class racing categories such as Formula One, and it has been termed the territory's most prestigious international sporting event.
The 2001 Macau Grand Prix was the 48th edition of the event and the 19th time the race was held to Formula Three regulations. It took place on the 6.2-kilometre (3.9 mi) 22-turn Guia Circuit on 18 November 2001 with three preceding days of practice and qualifying. Following an accident in which driver Frans Verschuur's brakes failed, which meant he penetrated the Lisboa corner tyre wall, and ploughed into a truck, killing a mainland Chinese tourist and injuring three other people during the warm-up session for the 2000 Guia Race of Macau, race organisers installed two rows of steel barriers and enhanced safety by replacing its canvas and repaired the area's asphalt road surface.
In order to compete in Macau, drivers had to compete in a Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA)-regulated championship meeting during the calendar year, in one of the seven national Formula Three championships that took place during the calendar year, with the highest-placed drivers given priority in receiving an invitation to the race. Within the 30 car grid of the event, each of the major Formula Three series were represented by their respective champions. British champion Takuma Sato, who had been signed to drive for Jordan Grand Prix in the 2002 Formula One World Championship in October 2001 and was the first contracted Formula One driver to compete at the Macau Grand Prix since the 1985 race, was joined in Macau by German title holder Toshihiro Kaneishi, French series champion Ryō Fukuda, Japanese series winner Benoît Tréluyer and Australian champion Peter Hackett. Three Macanese drivers were issued invitations from the Macau Grand Prix Committee to participate in the event: Jo Merszei, Michael Ho and Lei Kit Meng. British series driver Gianmaria Bruni elected to withdraw from the event and the Korea Super Prix because of a lack of car familiarisation time and he opted to test an International Formula 3000 vehicle. Bruni was replaced with Formula Renault 2.0 UK Championship driver Heikki Kovalainen.
Practice and qualifying
Two practice sessions lasting half an hour were held before the race on Sunday: one on Thursday morning and one on Friday morning. In the first practice session, held on a dirty track because of debris left during practice for the Guia Race of Macau and in cool but cloudy weather conditions, Paolo Montin set the fastest time for TOM'S with a lap at 2 minutes and 14.510 seconds set in the session's final minute. He was nearly four-tenths of a second faster than Jonathan Cochet in second who struggled with front braking problems and he was fastest until Montin's lap. Sato was third-quickest. Pierre Kaffer and Tiago Monteiro placed fourth and fifth. The rest of the top ten were Yuji Ide, Kaneishi, João Paulo de Oliveira, Kosuke Matsuura and Tréluyer. No major incidents were reported during the session although Mark Taylor and Kovalainen scraped the barriers alongside the track.
The qualifying period was split into two 45 minute sessions; the first was held on Thursday afternoon, and the second on Friday afternoon. The fastest time set by each driver from either session counted towards his final starting position for Sunday's race. The first qualifying session on Thursday afternoon was held in warm weather conditions and in a strong sea breeze from Macau's coastline. Practice pace setter Montin contended from the beginning and took provisional pole position with a 2 minutes and 13.214 seconds lap with less than two minutes left. Sato led for much of the session and he took second. Cochet carried his form over from practice and was third-quickest. Monteiro had the pole position early on but he could not improve his time and took fourth. Anthony Davidson sought to find a rhythm he liked and was fifth. Sixth-placed Kaneshi took first from Monteiro until he fell back. Fukuka did not push too hard and he was provisionally seventh. Andy Priaulx was an early pace setter but he ended eighth. Tréluyer and Matsurra rounded out the top ten. De Oliviera was the fastest driver not to reach the top ten despite a strong pace early on. Kaffer was next ahead of Björn Wirdheim, Enrico Toccacelo and Derek Hayes. The rest of the order was completed by Marchy Lee, Kovalainen, Bruce Jouanny, Tristan Gommendy, Sakon Yamamoto, Peter Sundberg, Hackett, Ho, Haruki Kurosawa, Lei, Merszei, Matteo Bobbi and Taylor. Ide and Raffaele Giammaria did not set a lap time.
Ide slid on his out-lap and collided with the Mandarin Oriental Bend wall. He recovered but stopped in the Melco hairpin tyre barrier, creating a traffic jam that caught out Giammaria. This stopped qualifying so that marshals could clear the wreckage. Davidson could not avoid striking Lei's stricken car and he went airborne. His suspension wishbones were broken and his nose cone was removed. Davidson drove slowly to the pit lane for car repairs. Later, Kurosawa removed one of his car's wheels in an impact with a wall. Taylor and Bobbi made contact and ended their session early as Yamamoto heavily hit the wall alongside the track. With less than a minute left, Davidson lost rear vehicle traction at Matsuya bend and hit the barrier heavily. He ricocheted sideways across the track and stopped broadside. An unsighted Montiero then rammed Davidson's car at low speed. Davidson prepared by moving his head forwards and exited his car without external assistance. He complained of a sore neck and was taken by ambulance to the local hospital for a precautionary x-ray. He was kept in hospital overnight and was ruled unfit to drive in the remainder of the meeting because of a concussion, torn neck ligaments and a fractured C5 vertebrae.
In the second half an hour practice session, which took place in hot and clear conditions on Friday morning, Priaulx was the early pace setter and he held the top spot until Wirdheim set the first lap under 2 minute and 15 seconds. The order in the time sheets continuously changed but practice's opening minutes did not have anyone record a lap lower than two minute and 14 seconds. Monteiro adjusted his car's set-up to go fastest with a 2 minutes and 13.241 seconds lap. He was 0.112 seconds faster than the second-placed Sato who was quick throughout due to a car set-up change. Tréluyer damaged his car's front in a mid-session impact with the wall and placed third, Cochet was fourth and Kaffer fifth. Fukuda was sixth-fastest, Wirdheim seventh, de Oliviera eighth, Toccacelo ninth and Priaulx completed the top ten entering the second qualifying session.
The second 45-minute qualifying session on Friday afternoon was held in clear, hot and breezy weather conditions. Provisional pole sitter Montin set the early pace with the first lap to go below 2 minutes and 13 seconds. Wirdheim prepared by inspecting and filming 20 laps of the Guia Circuit on a VHS tape in a hire car with his race engineer early on Tuesday morning. He attributed this to aiding his efforts to claim the pole position from Montin but Tréluyer took it soon after. Fukuda then set a new fastest lap before the session was stopped when Hackett crashed into the wall beside the circuit and his car required recovery by track marshals. Wirdheim, Tréluyer and Cochet exchanged the pole position before Wirdheim secured it with a 2 minutes and 11.983 seconds lap, which the motorsport press considered surprising.
Sato was ninth in the final ten minutes and he improved to join Wirdheim on the grid's front row but did not earn the pole position because he swerved to avoid hitting Ho's car at the exit to Fisherman's Bend corner. Cochet could not respond to Wirdheim and Sato's pace and he remained third. Montin fell to fourth because he could not regain the necessary speed to return to the top three. He was marginally in front of Tréluyer in fifth. Priaulx improved to sixth in second qualifying's last minute. Matsuura moved to seventh while Monteiro was demoted to eighth and Fukuda fell to ninth. Kaffer completed the top ten qualifiers. Behind him the rest of the field lined up as Kaneishi, Ide, Toccacelo, Hayes, Jouanny, de Oliviera, Sundberg, Taylor, Gommendy, Kurosawa, Lee, Kovalainen, Giammaria, Yamamoto, Bobbi, Ho, Hackett, Lei and Merszei.
A half an hour warm-up session was held on the morning of the race. Montin carried his strong form into warm-up and he recorded the fastest time with a 2 minutes and 12.836 seconds lap. Sato's best lap was almost four-tenths of a second slower in second and pole sitter Wirdheim was third. Fukuda placed fourth, Priaulx was fifth-quickest and Cochet sixth. Positions seven through ten were made up by de Oliviera, Kaffer and the Japanese pair of Kaneishi and Matsuura.
Sunday's race was divided into two aggregate legs lasting a total of 30 laps. The first fifteen lap leg was held in the morning and the results of that leg determined the starting grid of the second leg with the winner starting from pole position. Afterwards, a five-hour interval was observed to allow for the intervening support races to occur. The second fifteen lap leg took place later in the afternoon. The overall Grand Prix winner was the driver who completed every lap in the shortest amount of time.
The first leg of the race began in hot and sunny weather conditions at 10:15 Macau Standard Time (UTC+08:00) on 18 November. Matsuura failed to get away from the starting grid and he was instructed to begin from the pit lane. Wirdheim and Sato made equally fast getaways but neither driver led on the approach to Lisboa corner as Cochet glimpsed open space and executed a slingshot manoeuvre to make his way past them. Further down the order, two multi-car accidents caused the leg to be red flagged to a halt. Hayes slipstreamed the rear of Jouanny's car on the straight going into Lisboa turn and felt a sudden spike of acceleration as he was about to be circumspect. He then locked his brakes, was launched over the top of Jouanny and landed on Kaffer's vehicle. Some drivers made contact with each other as they scrambled for open space to try and avoid being caught up in the incident. Yamamoto was greatly unsettled and he ran off at San Francisco Bend. This caused Giammaria to drive off the track in avoidance and he hit the barrier beside the track. In all, eleven cars sustained damage in both crashes and de Oliviera, Kaneishi, Sundberg, Lee and Gommendy retired.
The race restarted with a standing start and Sato made a better getaway to slipstream past Wirdheim on the run to Lisboa corner for the lead. Cochet, meanwhile, could not achieve a fast start and he was left to battle Montin and Tréluyer. That gave Wirdheim the freedom to concentrate on staying with Sato if possible while Cochet lost the duel and fell to sixth. Priaulx picked up a puncture and he entered the pit lane for new tyres to go several laps down. Sato drew clear from the rest of the field and established a one-second lead over Wirdheim. In the meantime, Monteiro and Toccacelo collided with each other, causing the latter to retire and the former to drive slowly back to the pit lane for a replacement front wing. Elsewhere, Taylor went from nineteenth to eighth by the conclusion of the third lap while Kovalainen gained thirteen positions to run in tenth by the same time. Montin got ahead of Tréluyer and moved into third but Tréluyer stayed close behind him. Similarly, Sato could not pull away from Wirdheim who set a new fastest lap to draw closer to him.
The safety car was deployed on the fourth lap when Cochet spun at the Reservoir bend and hit the tyre wall. He was collected by Fukuda who sustained heavy damage to his car's left-hand side. Although Fukuda exited his car without external aid, he sustained a concussion and was transported via ambulance to the local hospital. Four laps later, the safety car was withdrawn and the field was released back to racing speeds. However, it was immediately deployed for a second time when Taylor pushed too hard on cold tyres and lost control of his car at the Reservoir bend. He collided with the wall and removed one of his car's wheels which Hackett struck. Racing resumed on the ninth lap as the safety car was withdrawn. The race turned into a procession as all drivers sought to avoid an unpleasant situation. Sato was unchallenged in the final six laps to win the first leg and start the second leg from pole position. Wirdheim was 1.490 seconds adrift in second and Montin completed the podium in third. Off the podium, Tréluyer gained on Montin but later settled for fourth. Matsuura finished fifth and Bobbi sixth. Ide came seventh, Kovalainen eighth, Ho was the highest-placed Macanese driver in ninth and Hackett completed the top ten finishers. Outside the top ten, Lei finished eleventh, having gained 18 positions from where he started. The trio of Merszei, Monteiro and Gommendy were the last of the classified finishers and the latter two were lapped twice by Sato.
The second leg started later that day in hot and sunny weather conditions at 15:40 local time. Taylor, Cochet, Fukuda, Sundberg, Giammaria and Yamamoto could not start because their cars were damaged beyond repair. Thus, 23 drivers began the second leg. The driver's major issue in the middle of the grid was that they would be easily overtaken by faster vehicles, which prompted Lei to allow them past so he would not interfere. At the start, Sato made a good getaway and withstood heavy pressure from Montin to retain his lead on the run to the first corner despite a glance with the barrier lining the circuit. Wirdheim had multiple cars beside him and he was passed by Tréluyer for second. Kovalainen could not accelerate off his grid slot and fell three-quarters of a lap adrift of Sato. While Sato pushed hard to establish his lead of 1.4 seconds by the end of lap one, Wirdheim put Tréluyer under pressure in the battle for second. Further back in the field, Bobbi was overtaken by Ide and Ho lost several positions to all drivers behind him bar Kovalainen and Lee. On lap two, Montin removed his rear-left wheel in a collision with the wall. He drove slowly to the pit lane for a replacement wheel and the subsequent loss of time put him out of contention for a top ten overall finish.
Sato's advantage at the front of the lead was lowered slightly as Tréluyer pulled away from Wirdheim in third. Sato responded by increasing his advantage by a small margin on the following lap and did the same whenever it appeared that Tréluyer would draw closer to him. Hayes endeavoured to make up for the first leg by eclipsing Narain Karthikeyan's race track lap record of the Guia Circuit in the 2000 edition with a time of 2 minutes and 12.921 seconds. He caught Kurosawa and overtook him with no hindrance and then focused on catching Hackett whom he passed soon after. Hackett lost further positions to Kaneishi and de Oliviera by the conclusion of the seventh lap as they sought to recover lost ground from not restarting the first leg. Monteiro led a battle over fifth that included Priaulx, Kaffer and Ide. Monteiro tried to get ahead of Ide but the latter blocked his manoeuvre and Priaulx overtook Monteiro. That meant Kaffer challenged Monteiro for sixth place while Ide lost fifth to Priaulx on lap 12. Doing this unsettled Ide who lost sixth and seventh to Monteiro and Kaffer soon after because he delayed them for the previous four laps. Ahead of the quartet, Matsuura was distanced by Wirdheim who began to challenge Tréluyer in slower traffic.
That distracted Tréluyer long enough to enable Wirdheim to execute an overtaking manoeuvre but he blocked the attempt. Jouanny and Hayes moved in front of Bobbi on the road during the final lap. Meanwhile, on his second appearance in Macau, Sato was unchallenged for the remainder of the second leg to complete it ten minutes faster than the first leg and win the Grand Prix outright, achieving the first victory for a Japanese driver in the race's history. Tréluyer crossed the start/finish line 4.410 seconds later in second and Wirdheim completed the overall podium finishers in third. Off the podium, the Japanese duo of Matsuura and Ide finished fourth and fifth. Bobbi took sixth and seventh went to Hackett. Kovalainen placed eighth, and the Macanese pair of Ho and Lei rounded out the top ten. Montin was eleventh. The last of the classified finishers were Merszei, Monteiro, Gommendy and Kurosawa.
|Pos||No.||Driver||Team||Q1 Time||Rank||Q2 Time||Rank||Gap||Grid|
|1||27||Björn Wirdheim||Prema Powerteam||2:14.891||13||2:11.983||1||—||1|
|2||6||Takuma Sato||Carlin Motorsport||2:13.546||2||2:12.062||2||+0.079||2|
|3||25||Jonathan Cochet||Signature Team||2:13.676||3||2:12.212||3||+0.229||3|
|5||3||Benoît Tréluyer||Mugen x Dome Project||2:14.383||9||2:12.487||5||+0.504||5|
|6||30||Andy Priaulx||Andy Priaulx||2:14.375||8||2:12.581||6||+0.598||6|
|7||28||Kosuke Matsuura||Prema Powerteam||2:14.483||10||2:12.718||7||+0.735||7|
|8||18||Tiago Monteiro||ASM Formule 3||2:13.776||4||2:12.902||8||+0.919||8|
|9||8||Ryō Fukuda||Saulnier Racing||2:14.047||7||2:12.948||9||+0.965||9|
|10||10||Pierre Kaffer||Kolles Racing||2:14.586||12||2:13.108||10||+1.125||10|
|11||1||Toshihiro Kaneishi||Bertram Schafer Racing||2:14.042||6||2:13.686||11||+1.703||11|
|12||26||Yuji Ide||Signature Team||—||29||2:13.715||12||+1.732||12|
|13||5||Anthony Davidson||Carlin Motorsport||2:13.839||5||—||30||+1.856||—1|
|14||2||Enrico Toccacelo||Bertram Schafer Racing||2:14.894||14||2:13.975||13||+1.992||13|
|15||15||Derek Hayes||Derek Hayes||2:16.039||15||2:13.989||14||+2.006||14|
|16||31||Bruce Jouanny||Bruce Jouanny||2:16.426||18||2:14.484||15||+2.501||15|
|17||19||João Paulo de Oliveira||Swiss Racing Team||2:14.529||11||2:14.556||16||+2.546||16|
|18||21||Peter Sundberg||ThreeBond Racing||2:17.363||21||2:14.994||17||+3.011||17|
|19||16||Mark Taylor||Mark Taylor||15:47.588||28||2:15.439||18||+3.456||18|
|20||17||Tristan Gommendy||ASM Formule 3||2:16.643||19||2:15.485||19||+3.502||19|
|21||20||Haruki Kurosawa||Swiss Racing Team||2:22.388||24||2:16.041||20||+4.058||20|
|22||9||Marchy Lee||Saulnier Racing||2:16.094||16||2:16.117||21||+4.111||21|
|23||23||Heikki Kovalainen||Fortec Motorsport||2:16.139||17||—||29||+4.156||22|
|24||33||Raffaele Giammaria||Kolles Racing||—||30||2:16.773||22||+4.790||23|
|26||36||Matteo Bobbi||Target Racing||2:28.194||27||2:17.393||23||+5.410||25|
|27||32||Michael Ho||Cram Competition||2:18.890||23||2:17.612||24||+5.629||26|
|28||7||Peter Hackett||Carlin Motorsport||2:17.726||22||2:18.079||25||+5.743||27|
|29||22||Lei Kit Meng||Fortec Motorsport||2:23.472||25||2:19.504||26||+7.521||28|
|30||29||Jo Merszei||Cram Competition||2:26.044||26||2:24.583||27||+12.600||29|
110% qualifying time: 2:25.181
Bold time indicates the faster of the two times that determined the grid order.
- ^1 – Anthony Davidson crashed heavily during the first qualifying session and he was declared medically unfit to take part in the race.
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