2003 Macau Grand Prix
|Date||16 November 2003|
|Location||Guia Circuit, Macau|
|Course||Temporary street circuit
6.120 km (3.803 mi)
|Distance||25 laps, 152.925 km (95.023 mi)|
|Driver||Fábio Carbone||Signature Team|
|Second||Nicolas Lapierre||Signature Team|
|Third||Richard Antinucci||Hitech Racing|
|First||Nicolas Lapierre||Signature Team|
|Second||Fabio Carbone||Signature Team|
|Third||Katsuyuki Hiranaka||Prema Powerteam|
The 2003 Macau Grand Prix (formally the 50th Macau Grand Prix) was a motor race for Formula Three cars that was held on the streets of Macau on 16 November 2003. Unlike other races, such as the Masters of Formula 3, the 2003 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 legs: the first leg was held in the morning and lasted ten laps. The second took place in the afternoon and lasted fifteen laps. The overall winner was the driver who completed all 25 laps in the shortest amount of time. The 2003 event was the 50th running of the Macau Grand Prix and the 21st for Formula Three cars.
The Grand Prix was won by Signature Plus driver Nicolas Lapierre, having finished second in the first leg which was taken by James Courtney of TOM'S. Lapierre took the lead four laps from the end when Courtney sustained a puncture from running over a stray piece of carbon fibre debris and crashed into the wall at the Melco hairpin. Thus, Lapierre became the first rookie to win at Macau since David Coulthard in 1991. Second place went to the other Signature Plus car of Fábio Carbone and the podium was completed by Prema Powerteam's Katsuyuki Hiranaka.
Background and entry list
The 2003 Macau Grand Prix was the fiftieth running of the event and the twenty-first time the race was held to Formula Three regulations. It took place on the 6.2 kilometres (3.9 mi) twenty-two turn Guia Circuit on 16 November 2003 with three preceding days of practice and qualifying.
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 either the Formula Three Euro Series or one of the domestic championships, with the highest-placed drivers given priority in receiving an invitation to the race. Within the 30 car grid of the event, three of the four major Formula Three series were represented by their respective champion. Ryan Briscoe, the Formula Three Euro Series champion, was joined in Macau by All-Japan Formula Three series winner James Courtney and Italian champion Fausto Ippoliti. The highest ranked driver representing the British Formula Three Championship was Nelson Piquet Jr. and he was joined by the series' scholarship champion E. J. Viso. Five drivers from outside of Formula Three received invitations from race organisers to participate in the Grand Prix. They were Lewis Hamilton, the Formula Renault 2.0 UK champion, World Series by Nissan driver Narain Karthikeyan and Macau natives Lei Kit Meng, Michael Ho and Jo Merszei.
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.
Practice and qualifying
Two practice sessions were held before the race on Sunday. The first session, held on Thursday morning, lasted thirty minutes, while the second identically timed session, took place on Friday morning. Courtney, a pre-race favourite, set the fastest time early in the opening practice session with a lap of 2 minutes and 14.724 seconds and he was 0.744 seconds quicker than Pierre Kaffer in second. Richard Antinucci, Tatsuya Kataoka, Karthikeyan, Fábio Carbone, Briscoe, Katsuyuki Hiranaka, Robert Kubica and Paolo Montin made up positions three through ten. Three incidents occurred during the session. Hamilton collided with Kataoka at Fisherman's Bend corner and spun into the barrier. Marco Bonanomi later crashed into the wall at Dona Maria Bend corner and then Fairuz Fauzy braked too late for Lisboa turn and hit the barriers lightly.
The qualifying period was split into two sessions; the first was held on Thursday afternoon and lasted 45 minutes. The second held on Friday afternoon was similarly timed to the previous day's session. The fastest time set by each driver from either session counted towards his final starting position for the race on Sunday. The start of the first qualifying session was delayed by 35 minutes due to an incident during practice for the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia race in which an unknown driver dented the Armco barrier at the exit of the pit lane and course officials had to repair it. When the session did start in overcast but warm weather conditions, several drivers occupied provisional pole position, but it was Courtney who was fastest by pushing hard and avoided using new tyres to set a 2 minutes and 13.232 seconds lap. Carbone was six-tenths of a second adrift in second having held pole position for much of the session. Kaffer was consistently in the top four and ended in provisional third. Kataoka finished in fourth and Robert Doornbos placed fifth. Nicolas Lapierre corrected a ride height problem that held him back in practice and was sixth after running strongly throughout. Lapierre was ahead of Montin and Piquet. Karthikeyan and César Campaniço rounded out the top ten. Antinucci was the fastest driver not to enter the top ten but he was as high as provisional pole position in qualifying's early stages. Following Antinucci were Nico Rosberg, Álvaro Parente and Hiranaka. Briscoe was an early pace setter but he could not replicate this form later on and was 15th. Fauzy was next up, ahead of Pedro Barral, Andrew Thompson, Hamilton and Ronnie Quintarelli. The rest of the order was completed by Danny Watts, Viso, Naoki Yokomizo, Bonanomi, Ho, Rob Austin, Hiroki Yoshimoto, Kubica, Lei and Merszei. The session was disrupted with two red flags as some drivers ventured off the track. Viso spun approaching Police Bend and rested sideways on a narrow section of the track. Kubica was close by and tried to avoid Viso but clipped the wall and ricocheted off his nose cone. Since several cars could not get by due to the circuit being impassible, the session was stopped and officials moved the stricken cars. The second red flags were triggered by Barral who spun entering the Melco hairpin and blocked the track. Yellow flags were later needed at the R-Bend turn for Piquet who removed his left-rear wheel in a heavily clout with the wall.
In the second half an hour practice session, Courtney continued his record of being the fastest driver in every session held up until that point and posted a lap time of 2 minutes and 13.566 seconds. He was three-tenths of a second faster than Antinucci. Kataoka was third-fastest, Lapierre was fourth, Doornbos fifth and Montin sixth. Rosberg was seventh-fastest and the rest of the top ten ahead of second qualifying were Kaffer, Yoshimoto and Carbone. The first stoppage of the session happened when Austin crashed heavily and Yokomizo inflicted an extensive amount of damage to his car when he crashed at San Francisco Bend corner. Other drivers to sustain car damage were Piquet, Barral, Briscoe and Hiranaka.
The start of the second qualifying session was delayed for 25 minutes due to multiple incidents and crashes in second practice and qualifying for the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia race. When it did start, most drivers saved two sets of tyres for Sunday's race but nobody improved their lap times early on but a large amount of close formation driving was observed. Although he could not improve his time due to heavy traffic, Courtney continued to hold the pole position until Carbone took it with a time of 2 minutes and 13.016 seconds late on and kept it until qualifying ended. However, Carbone's session ended early as he pushed too hard trying to improve his time and spun into the San Francisco Bend corner wall. Briscoe pushed hard and joined Carbone on the grid's front row despite having a wishbone on his suspension replaced after he spun into the barrier at Fisherman's Bend early on. Courtney fell to third and he attributed this to a gear ratio change which lost him some acceleration. Lapierre improved to fourth while Kaffer fell to fifth. Antinucci was another driver to improve his best time and gained five places to qualify sixth despite going off at Lisboa turn. Rosberg clipped the wall at Police bend but set a seventh-place lap. Kataoka was eighth and Montin ninth. Doornbos had an accident at Lisboa corner and fell five places to round out the top ten. Behind him, the rest of the field lined up as Parente, Fauzy, Piquet, Kubica, Campaniço, Watts, Karthikeyan, Hamilton, Yoshimoto, Quintarelli, Thompson, Barral, Hiranaka, Viso, Austin, Ho, Yokomizo, Bonanomi, Lei and Merszei. As other drivers went off the track, there was one other major incident that occurred during the session which was the unwell Karthiekyan being not able to control his car and pulled off at Police bend.
A twenty-minute warm-up session was held on the morning of the race. Antinucci drove more strongly than he had done in all the prior sessions and was the fastest driver with a lap time of 2 minutes and 14.048 seconds. Carbone was a tenth of a second behind in second and Piquet followed close behind in third. Placing fourth was Kataoka with Doornbos fifth and Kaffer sixth. Briscoe, Montin, Rosberg and Kubica rounded the session's top ten fastest drivers. After warm-up, but before the first leg of the race, the field was reduced to 29 cars as Karthikeyan was withdrawn due to him being diagnosed with glandular fever by the FIA medical delegate.
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 winner of the Grand Prix was the driver who won the second leg provided he had completed all 30 laps of the race in the shortest amount of time.
The first leg of the race began under overcast but dry weather conditions at 09:15 Macau Standard Time (UTC+08:00) on 16 November. On the formation lap, one of Piquet's tyres shredded as he went up Moorish Hill. It then detached and Piquet also shattered his front wing. Piquet stopped in the pit lane and ran to the grid to seek a mechanic from his team but repairs could not be completed before the start. Briscoe made a fast getaway to drew alongside pole sitter Carbone around the inside going into Reservoir Bend corner. Briscoe took the lead after a touch of wheels with Carbone. However, Briscoe kept the lead for a short while as he carried too much speed approaching Lisboa turn and ran wide, allowing Carbone to retake first. Lapierre and Courtney took advantage of the situation to claim second and third from Briscoe. Further down the order, Kaffer tried to overtake to Montin around the inside but clipped the barrier on the outside line. As Kaffer ricocheted across the track, Rosberg rolled over one of the stricken vehicles and rested upside down on the circuit. Parente also got caught up in the incident and retired. Watts then picked up front wing damage but returned to the pit lane for a replacement nose cone before retiring a lap later.
Because of the wreckage, the safety car was deployed to enable the extraction of all the stricken cars via a crane and it remained on the circuit until the start of the third lap. Lapierre immediately mounted a challenge on his teammate Carbone. It led to Carbone's right-side front wing endplate breaking and launching into the air. Lapierre consequently became the new leader as he passed Carbone into Lisboa corner and Courtney followed soon after. Carbone then dropped behind Briscoe who moved to fourth and he came under attack from Antinucci. In the meantime, Austin gained the most places and was now 13th after starting 25th. Upfront, Lapierre withstood pressure from Courtney and responded by setting what was at that point the race's fastest lap, a circuit of two minutes and 15.704 seconds on the fifth lap. This however did not disconcert Courtney and he overtook Lapierre around the outside at Lisboa corner for the lead on lap six. Meanwhile, Kataoka moved up the order as he passed Doornbos while Hamilton got by Kubica.
Both gained another position on the seventh lap when a frustrated Briscoe collided with Carbone in his attempt at getting past for third due to Carbone braking 30 ft (9.1 m) earlier at Lisboa corner and spun. Carbone continued but Briscoe was stuck in Lisboa turn's escape road where he was trying to restart his car and Antinucci moved into third. Kataoka was now duelling Carbone but made an error in traffic when he tried to overtake him entering Lisboa turn. It meant Kataoka had to abandon the duel and went into the escape road to avoid piling into Carbone. Katoka was now pressured by Hamilton who overtook Doornbos on lap nine but re-passed him at Lisboa corner on the final lap before Doornbos' drive shaft broke and lost positions. Courtney extended his advantage to win by 4.6 seconds and started the second leg from pole position. He was joined on the front row of the grid by Lapierre and Antinucci was third. The last of the finishers were Carbone, Hamilton, Kubica, Fauzy, Thompson, Quintarelli, Hiranaka, Austin, Viso, Yoshimoto, Doornbos, Briscoe, Ho, Bonanomi, Lei, Merszei and Barral. Other retirements included Campaniço, Kataoka and Piquet who damaged their cars by hitting the walls lining the track.
The race's second leg started later that day at 15:55 local time under cloudy but dry weather conditions. Yoshimoto removed his front wing and it was replaced before the second leg began. Courtney held the lead going into Reservoir Bend corner with Lapierre close by. Hamilton moved to third but could not advance any further as he was caught up in a multi-car accident. Hamilton was slow leaving the turn as Kubica challenged him on the inside approaching San Francisco Bend. Kubica went into the wall and ricocheted into the incoming field. Antnucci then drifted into the wall and his front wing broke Hamilton's front track rod. Antinucci's teammate Thompson also went into the barrier. The incidents necessitated the safety car's deployment for two laps since track marshals had to remove the wrecked cars. Courtney remained first at the restart, followed by Lapierre and fended off a series of initial attacks from him for the lead. Under the safety car, Hamilton noticed he had a punctured tyre from the contact with Antinucci. He allowed Carbone through just before the start/finish line to make the puncture known to race officials and he retired in the pit lane at the end of lap three. Meanwhile, Viso retired on the lap with car damage caused by debris.
Lapierre was underneath the rear of Courtney's car as they entered the Melco hairpin each time but Courtney pulled out a small advantage on the circuit's straights due to the superior horsepower provided by his engine over Lapierre's power unit. This proved so until Lapierre drew closer to Courtney by setting the race's fastest lap and Courtney responded by doing the same lap after lap. It provided Courtney with a small lead and he negated the slipstream effect that Lapierre would have had if he was close by. In the meantime, Carbone incurred a drive-through penalty for passing Hamilton before the start/finish line. It was rescinded when race officials realised Hamilton's puncture meant Carbone could not back off from passing him. Carbone responded by lapping faster than the top two but Lapierre reacted almost immediately and again began drawing closer to Courtney. Lapierre was soon close enough to attempt an overtake entering Lisboa turn but Courtney blocked his manoeuvre.
Further back, Parente retired in the pit lane on lap seven because of an oil leak. Meanwhile, Austin lost part of his front wing and led a train of cars that included Rosberg who sought a way past but Piquet was close by. Piquet then stopped attacking, allowing Rosberg to focus on Austin. He drew alongside Austin only for him to come back before the latter lost the duel and made a pit stop for a new front wing. Upfront, Courtney was focused on increasing his lead by recording the weekend's fastest lap, completing a circuit in two minutes and 12.937 seconds on the tenth lap, and it appeared he would win the race comfortably. However, on lap eleven, Courtney was two seconds in front of Lapierre when a stray chunk of carbon fibre debris lying on the circuit from an earlier incident punctured his right-rear tyre. That rendered Courtney unable to steer and he went into the barriers leaving the Melco hairpin. Courtney's front-right suspension was torn from his vehicle and its bodywork damaged. Although Courtney was unhurt, Lapierre moved into the lead.
Kaffer was hassling Kataoka for sixth but this became fifth when Doornbos' gearbox failed on lap fourteen. Doornbos' retirement promoted Hiranaka to third while Kaffer overtook Kataoka for fifth. On the final lap, Kataoka retired due to a crash into the wall alongside the circuit. On his maiden appearance in Macau, it was Lapierre's overall victory, completing the second leg in a time of 37 minutes and 0.078 seconds, and achieving the first win for a rookie in Macau since David Coulthard the 1991 edition. Lapierre was 5.416 seconds in front of his teammate Carbone in second and Hiranaka completed the outright podium in third. Off the podium, Quintarelli had a quiet race in fourth and Briscoe placed fifth. Yoshimoto came sixth, Ho took seventh, Austin placed eighth, Fauzy finished ninth and Barral rounded out the top ten. The Macanese duo of Lei and Merszei were eleventh and twelfth. Bonanomi, Piquet, Kataoka and Doornbos were the last of the overall classified finishers after Lapierre lapped them. Of the twenty-nine drivers, nine completed all 25 laps of the event.
|Pos||No.||Driver||Team||Q1 Time||Rank||Q2 Time||Rank||Gap||Grid|
|1||16||Fábio Carbone||Signature Team||2:13.835||2||2:13.016||1||—||1|
|2||1||Ryan Briscoe||Prema Powerteam||2:15.894||15||2:13.223||2||+0.207||2|
|4||17||Nicolas Lapierre||Signature Team||2:14.900||6||2:13.270||4||+0.254||4|
|5||37||Pierre Kaffer||TME Racing||2:14.126||3||2:13.506||5||+0.490||5|
|6||11||Richard Antinucci||Hitech Racing||2:15.572||11||2:13.514||6||+0.498||6|
|7||6||Nico Rosberg||Carlin Motorsport||2:15.644||12||2:13.906||7||+0.890||7|
|9||23||Paolo Montin||ThreeBond Racing||2:15.071||7||2:13.958||9||+0.942||9|
|10||20||Robert Doornbos||Menu Motorsport||2:14.719||5||2:14.146||10||+1.130||10|
|11||5||Álvaro Parente||Carlin Motorsport||2:15.686||13||2:14.593||11||+1.577||11|
|13||12||Nelson Piquet Jr.||Hitech Racing||2:15.075||8||2:14.949||13||+1.933||13|
|14||25||Robert Kubica||Target Racing||2:20.406||28||2:14.965||14||+1.949||14|
|15||18||César Campaniço||Signature Team||2:15.506||10||2:15.001||15||+1.985||15|
|16||30||Danny Watts||Alan Docking Racing||2:17.218||21||2:15.050||16||+2.034||16|
|17||4||Narain Karthikeyan||Carlin Motorsport||2:15.135||9||2:15.381||19||+2.119||17|
|18||27||Lewis Hamilton||Manor Motorsport||2:16.636||19||2:15.160||17||+2.144||18|
|19||32||Hiroki Yoshimoto||Swiss Racing Team||2:19.483||27||2:15.189||18||+2.173||19|
|20||21||Ronnie Quintarelli||JB Motorsport with Inging||2:17.069||20||2:15.478||20||+2.462||20|
|21||15||Andrew Thompson||Hitech Racing||2:16.597||18||2:15.515||21||+2.499||21|
|22||15||Pedro Barral||Swiss Racing Team||2:16.568||17||2:15.782||22||+2.766||22|
|23||2||Katsuyuki Hiranaka||Prema Powerteam||2:15.854||14||2:16.114||24||+2.838||23|
|24||33||E. J. Viso||Promatecme||2:18.163||22||2:16.006||23||+2.990||24|
|25||19||Rob Austin||Menu Motorsport||2:18.934||26||2:16.368||25||+3.352||25|
|26||38||Michael Ho||TME Racing||2:18.896||25||2:16,877||26||+3.861||26|
|27||22||Naoki Yokomizo||JB Motorsport with Inging||2:18.183||23||No Time||+5.167||27|
|28||26||Marco Bonanomi||Target Racing||2:18.247||24||2:20.730||28||+5.231||28|
|29||28||Lei Kit Meng||Manor Motorsport||2:22.298||29||2:20.537||27||+7.521||29|
|30||29||Jo Merszei||Alan Docking Racing||2:29.289||30||2:24.503||29||+11.487||30|
110% qualifying time: 2:26.317
Bold time indicates the faster of the two times that determined the grid order.
|1||17||Nicolas Lapierre||Signature Team||25||—||4|
|2||16||Fábio Carbone||Signature Team||25||+5.416||1|
|3||2||Katsuyuki Hiranaka||Prema Powerteam||25||+15.382||23|
|4||21||Ronnie Quintarelli||JB Motorsport with Inging||25||+16.611||20|
|5||1||Ryan Briscoe||Prema Powerteam||25||+27.649||2|
|6||32||Hiroki Yoshimoto||Swiss Racing Team||25||+51.813||19|
|7||38||Michael Ho||TME Racing||25||+1.49.249||26|
|8||19||Rob Austin||Menu Motorsport||25||+2.05.596||25|
|10||15||Pedro Barral||Swiss Racing Team||24||+1 Lap||22|
|11||28||Lei Kit Meng||Manor Motorsport||24||+1 Lap||29|
|12||29||Jo Merszei||Alan Docking Racing||24||+1 Lap||30|
|13||26||Marco Bonanomi||Target Racing||23||+2 Laps||28|
|14||12||Nelson Piquet Jr.||Hitech Racing||22||+3 Laps||13|
|15||10||Tatsuya Kataoka||TOM'S||22||+3 Laps||8|
|16||20||Robert Doornbos||Menu Motorsport||22||+3 Laps||10|
|Ret||9||James Courtney||TOM'S||20||Accident in leg two||3|
|Ret||18||César Campaniço||Signature Team||18||Accident in leg two||15|
|Ret||30||Danny Watts||Alan Docking Racing||16||Accident damage||16|
|Ret||37||Pierre Kaffer||TME Racing||15||Accident in leg one||5|
|Ret||23||Paolo Montin||ThreeBond Racing||15||Accident in leg one||9|
|Ret||22||Naoki Yokomizo||JB Motorsport with Inging||15||Retired||27|
|Ret||33||E. J. Viso||Promatecme||13||Accident damage||24|
|Ret||27||Lewis Hamilton||Manor Motorsport||13||Puncture in leg two||18|
|Ret||11||Richard Antinucci||Hitech Racing||10||Accident in leg two||6|
|Ret||25||Robert Kubica||Target Racing||10||Accident in leg two||14|
|Ret||15||Andrew Thompson||Hitech Racing||10||Accident in leg two||21|
|Ret||6||Nico Rosberg||Carlin Motorsport||6||Not classified||7|
|Ret||5||Álvaro Parente||Carlin Motorsport||6||Accident/Oil leak||11|
|WD||4||Narain Karthikeyan||Carlin Motorsport||0||Illness||17|
|Fastest lap: James Courtney, 2:12.937, 165.73 km/h (102.98 mph) on lap 10|
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