By sportswriter Michael Butterworth
MACAO, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) — Estonia’s Juri Vips took pole position for Sunday’s 2019 Grand Prix here after finishing first in today’s 10-lap qualifying race at the Guia Circuit.
Starting from pole, the Hitech driver kept ahead of Prema’s Robert Schwartzman in the opening stages of the race and was never truly threatened as he took a lights-to-flag win.
“I didn’t expect pole position to be such a good thing, but today I got a mega start, and I think Robert didn’t get the best one, so I was able to lead into the first braking zone,” Vips said. “I think if people around me get good starts tomorrow it will be harder.”
Schwartzman also held his second place on the grid to the end, though the Russian rued his inability to take advantage of the long straights on the Guia Circuit and pass Vips for the lead.
“My start wasn’t as good as Juri’s, who was quicker and built up a gap,” Schwartzman said. “Towards the end I started to catch him a bit, but it wasn’t enough. Pace-wise, we’re really close to each other, so tomorrow is going to be interesting.”
Behind Schwartzman, Denmark’s Christian Lundgaard overtook Callum Ilott to finish an impressive third in his first race at Macao, and expressed confidence in his chances of overall victory on Sunday.
“In comparison with the pace we had in practise and first qualifying, third place today was something we never saw coming, so I can only be happy,” the Dane said. “After today, I’m quite confident we can win tomorrow if everything is in place.”
As ever, the tight confines of the 6.2km Guia Circuit saw a number of drivers come to grief, with Arjun Maini and Jake Hughes having to retire after a multi-car carambolage at the notorious Lisboa Bend on lap one.
2017 and 2018 Macao Grand Prix winner Dan Ticktum also had to endure a lengthy pit stop after his Carlin was damaged in the same incident. The Briton will thus start tomorrow’s race from the rear of the 30-car field, making his chances of scoring an unprecedented hat-trick of Macao wins extremely remote.
First held in 1954, the Grand Prix has grown to become one of the world’s most prestigious motor racing events, and is widely seen as a stepping stone for young drivers on their way to higher categories of motorsport such as Formula 1.
Previous Macao winners include multiple F1 world champions Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher, with other F1 title winners such as Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Mika Hakkinen and Jenson Button also having raced at Guia.
LINK ORIGINAL: Xinhuanet