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Race Report

2023 FIA F3 Macau Grand Prix

Circuit: Guia Circuit, Macau, Length 6.117 km, 14th - 19th November 2023

Max Esterson (USA), Charlie Wurz (A) and Matías Zagazeta (PER)

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© Dutch Photo Agency


Charlie Wurz shines at Macau although not bringing home a result

Finally back in Macau, the 70th edition of the FIA F3 World Cup in Macau took place between the 14th and the 19th of November, with 9 out of 10 FIA F3 teams and a total of 26 drivers participating in it. The famous street circuit event is the highlight of the category and is held at the end of the season. Macau’s iconic Guia Circuit is a heady combination of long, fast straights and narrow slow-speed turns. Leaving the drivers with no room for mistakes, this race track is considered one of the most challenging circuits in the world.

F3 lap record: Jüri Vips, 2019, FIA Formula 3, 2:06.317
Macau GT Cup record: Earl Bamber, 2019, Porsche 911 GT3 R, 2:17.182
FIA World Touring Car Championship lap record: Rob Huff, 2014, Lada Granta 1.6T, 2:27.009
Motorcycle Grand Prix lap record: Stuart Easton, 2010, Kawasaki, 2:23.616


The opening Free Practice session was held on Thursday morning. The sky was clear, although a chill breeze was blowing throughout the whole day. It being the first time in Macau for our drivers, they used the 40 minutes practice session to get to know the track as much as possible and to gain confidence driving for the first time a powerful FIA F3 machine so close to the walls. Charlie took a very positive 17th place, with Matías in 20th and Max in 24th. In the afternoon, business started to get serious with the first of the two Qualifying sessions. Combined together, the two Qualis will shape the grid for the Qualification race. The Qualification race results will then form the grid for the World Cup Final Race. Charlie ended the challenging session, which had been disrupted by three red-flag breaks due to incidents, in 13th position, with Max in 21st and Matías in 23rd.

Free Practice 1

Thursday, 16/11/2023, 09.00 – 09.40, Weather: Sunny, 21°C

1st Gabriele Mini (ITA) Prema 2:06.871
2nd Luke Browning (GB) Hitech 2:07.300
3rd Richard Verschoor (NL) Trident 2:07.864
17th Charlie Wurz (AU) Jenzer Motorsport 2:10.126
20th Matías Zagazeta (PER) Jenzer Motorsport 2:10.476
24th Max Esterson (USA) Jenzer Motorsport 2:11.371


Qualifying 1

Thursday, 15/11/2019, 15.15 – 15.45, Weather: Sunny, 23°C

1st Gabriele Mini (ITA) Prema 2:05.521
2nd Luke Browning (GB) Hitech 2:06.018
3rd Dino Beganovic (SWE) Prema 2:06.131
13th Charlie Wurz (AU) Jenzer Motorsport 2:07.353
21st Max Esterson (USA) Jenzer Motorsport 2:08.429
23rd Matías Zagazeta (PER) Jenzer Motorsport 2:08.769

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© Dutch Photo Agency


On Friday morning, it was rather windy when the FIA Formula 3 cars headed out for the second Free Practice session. With the experience from the previous day, our drivers were more confident and Charlie finished the session, which had been very disrupted with several breaks due to incidents, in a brilliant 10th place. Max also did a good job and took 14th place, followed by Matías in a nice 15th position. Later in the afternoon, the second Qualifying session got underway and again it was heavily disrupted by four red flags. Our drivers were doing their best to improve their lap times, while at the same time needing to avoid making mistakes. With less than five minutes remaining, Marcus Armstrong and Ugo Ugochukwu made separate contacts with the walls, bringing out the third red flag. The session resumed, giving one last chance to everyone. Charlie was improving when, unfortunately, also Hadjar hit the walls, bringing qualifying to an early end. In this chaotic session, Charlie achieved 17th position, Max finished 20th while Matías was 24th.

After combining the fastest lap times from the two Qualifying sessions, Charlie got the 18th spot for the Qualifying Race grid, followed closely by Max in 21st position and Matías in 25th.

Free Practice 2

Friday, 17/11/2023, 09.30 – 10.10, Weather: Windy, 16°C

1st Paul Aron (EST) Prema 2:06.327
2nd Luke Browning (GB) Hitech 2:06.356
3rd Mari Boya (ES) MP Motorsport 2:06.651
10th Charlie Wurz (AU) Jenzer Motorsport 2:07.554
14th Max Esterson (USA) Jenzer Motorsport 2:07.830
15th Matías Zagazeta (PER) Jenzer Motorsport 2:08.266


Qualifying 2

Friday, 17/11/2023, 15.05 – 15.45, Weather: Sunny, 21°C

1st Luke Browning (GB) Hitech 2:05.435
2nd Gabriele Mini (ITA) Prema 2:05.441
3rd Dino Beganovic (SWE) Prema 2:05.518
17th Charlie Wurz (AU) Jenzer Motorsport 2:07.219
20th Max Esterson (USA) Jenzer Motorsport 2:07.507
24th Matías Zagazeta (PER) Jenzer Motorsport 2:08.489

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© Dutch Photo Agency

Best combined Qualifying times
Grid for Qualification Race

1st Luke Browning (GB) Hitech 2:05.435
2nd Gabriele Mini (ITA) Prema 2:05.441
3rd Dino Beganovic (SWE) Prema 2:05.518
18th Charlie Wurz (AU) Jenzer Motorsport 2:07.219
21st Max Esterson (USA) Jenzer Motorsport 2:07.507
25th Matías Zagazeta (PER) Jenzer Motorsport 2:08.489

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© Dutch Photo Agency


FIA F3 Macau Grand Prix

Qualification Race (10 laps)

Saturday, 18/11/23, 15.50, Weather: Sunny 22°C

Since Thursday, the drivers had steadily improved in the free practice and qualifying sessions. Soon the old record lap time was beaten by almost a second. Top speeds on the straight were over 310 km/h.
The qualification race got underway on Saturday afternoon, with a slight delay due to some eparations that needed to be carried out at the barriers after the GT Race. Lining up in 18th position, Charlie had a superb start and immediately powered past other cars to snatch 14th position by the end of the opening lap. Max also had a good start and as the lights went out, he roared forward and improved up to 19th place. As the field made its way into Turn 1 without incident, Matías had a rather cautious start and held on to his position across the opening lap. Unfortunately, during the second lap Armstrong (already two times competitor at Macau, 2023 full time Indy Car driver) got to a halt at the Melco hairpin and Matías got stuck behind him. As Armstrong and Matías were able to get going again and to rejoin the race, Ugochuwku was unable to turn at the notorious Lisboa corner and Ticktum (two times FIA F3 Macau World Cup winner) had no way to avoid contact. With this both hit the barriers and were out of the race. A Safety Car had to be deployed until the track was cleaned. With 6 laps to go, the race restarted and Charlie was ready. Our Austrian rookie closed the gap to Verschoor (winner of the last FIA F3 World Cup Final in 2019) in front, drew alongside him and courageously got past to take 11th position. Also taking advantage of the restart, Max was now in 16th place, while Matías was at the back of the field. When the chequered flag waved, Charlie took a brilliant 11th position, having gained 7 positions in a great race! Max closed the race in a very good 16th place, while Matías was 24th at the end.

Results Qualification Race
1st Luke Browning (GB) Hitech 26:52.318  
2nd Alex Dunne (IRL) Prema Gap 2.097
3rd Gabriele Minì (ITA) Prema Gap 4.441
11th Charlie Wurz (A) Jenzer Motorsport    
16th Max Esterson (USA) Jenzer Motorsport    
24th Matías Zagazeta (PER) Jenzer Motorsport    
Fastest lap: Luke Browning (GB) in 2:06.257


Grid to the FIA F3 Macau Grand Prix Final Race

1st Luke Browning (GB) Hitech  
2nd Alex Dunne (IRL) Hitech  
3rd Gabriele Minì (ITA) Prema  
4th Dino Beganovic (SWE) Prema  
5th Dennis Hauger (NOR) MP Motorsport  
6th Mari Boya (E) MP Motorsport  
11th Charlie Wurz (AU) Jenzer Motorsport  
16th Max Esterson (USA) Jenzer Motorsport  
24th Matías Zagazeta (PER) Jenzer Motorsport  

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© Dutch Photo Agency

FIA F3 Macau Grand Prix

Final Race (15 laps)

Sunday, 19/11/23, 15.30, Weather: Sunny, 25°C

As per tradition here in Macau, all the members of the Macau Event Organization, all the drivers and many guests gathered on the start line before the race, once all the cars had taken up their places on the grid. All the drivers were greeted personally by the high officials, and a lion dance was performed after the lion had been blessed. Only then could the drivers get back into their cars and concentrate on the start.
When the lights went off, our drivers all had a very good start and were immediately fighting for positions. As the field reached the famous Lisboa corner, Dunne hit the barriers and a Virtual Safety Car was deployed. The track went green again by the end of the opening lap with Charlie in excellent 8th place, Max in 16th and Matías in 22nd position. It was not long after that another VSC neutralized the race when Beganovic hit the Lisboa’s barriers. The race restarted and Charlie was showing a really good pace in superb 7th position. Max was moving up and was now in 15th place, while Matías was 22nd. On lap 8, Aron had a big hit into the walls in Esses, with his car catching fire at Turn 14. Charlie was coming right behind and had to brake hard to avoid hitting Aron’s car. In doing so unfortunately Charlie also made contact with the wall and damaged his front wing. A Safety Car was deployed, but soon the red flag was waved. With the cars now back in the fast lane in pitlane, the mechanics could check Charlie’s car but the damage sustained was too big, bringing his race to an end. His position at the restart would have been 6th, but it was not to be. This was such a shame for Charlie, after showing such a strong pace! One hour later, after much cleaning on the circuit and barrier repairs done, action finally restarted with Max and Matías still in the race, in 18th and 19th place respectively. The drivers completed one lap behind the safety car and then the green flag was waved. With 4 laps to go, our drivers were ready to fight between the walls of Macau. Unfortunately, Max reported damage on the front wing and had to pit for a quick change. In the meantime, Tsolov hit the walls and the Safety Car had to be deployed. The 70th Macau Grand Prix Final race reached an end, having completed the last 2 laps behind the Safety Car. Matías crossed the finish line after a very exciting race in 17th position and Max in 20th.

Results Final Race – 2023 FIA F3 MACAU GRAND PRIX
1st Luke Browning (GB) Hitech 01:35:08.337  
2nd Dennis Hauger (NOR) MP Gap 0.347
3rd Gabriele Mini (ITA) Prema Gap 0.699
17th Matías Zagazeta (PER) Jenzer Motorsport    
20th Max Esterson (USA) Jenzer Motorsport    
DNF: Charlie Wurz (A) Jenzer Motorsport    
Fastest lap: Luke Browning (GB) in 2:06.647

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© Dutch Photo Agency

Max Esterson (USA)

© Dutch Photo Agency

Charlie Wurz (A)

© Dutch Photo Agency

Matías Zagazeta (PER)

© Dutch Photo Agency

Various pictures I

© Dutch Photo Agency

Various pictures II

© Jenzer Motorsport

This brings the 2023 FIA F3 season to an end.
The 2024 season starts in February with three test days in Bahrain, and the racing season begins at the start of March with the first race event as part of the Formula 1 event in Bahrain. We are already looking forward to the new season!

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© Dutch Photo Agency

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