Kiwi driver Nick Cassidy is a confirmed entry in a strong field of 27 drivers (with three still to be announced) for the 2016 Macau Grand Prix. The inaugural FIA F3 World Cup is shaping up as the culmination of some of the hardest-fought Formula 3 competition on record across multiple continents.
Drivers in the field have achieved no less than 14 outright championships in racing cars, as well as three of the last five Macau Grand Prix victories.
The Macau Grand Prix provisional entry includes the top four competitors behind outright winner Lance Stroll in the FIA F3 European Championship and the first and second place-getters in the All-Japan Formula 3 Championship.
FIA Director of Circuit Competition Frederic Bertrand said initial entries for the FIA F3 World Cup were so strong it was “like taking the cork out of a bottle”.
“There is pent-up desire amongst all these front-runners to prove their mettle in a face-to-face competition,” Mr Bertrand said.
Competition has been fierce in all Formula 3 titles.
In the 27 races that have made up the European title to date there have been 11 winners – a record in the championship’s history.
In Japan there have been five winners in 17 races.
“It has been an extraordinary season,” Mr Bertrand said.
The field for 2016 is headed by two-time Macau Grand Prix defending Champion and 2015 FIA F3 European Championship winner Felix Rosenqvist, who is aiming to become the first ever driver to win the Macau title race three times in succession.
Rosenqvist has been entered in a Theodore Racing by Prema Dallara Mercedes.
The most capped driver in the star-studded field is recently crowned Japanese F3 champion Kenta Yamashita, who won the title on 25 September for Team TOM’s. Yamashita won seven races on his way to championship victory.
Yamashita will drive for ThreeBond with T-Sport (Dallara Tomei) in Macau.
Maximilian Günther and Jann Mardenborough have each claimed four victories in their respective series – Günther in Europe and Mardenborough in Japan.
Günther will join Rosenqvist in the Theodore Racing by Prema team and Mardenborough will race under his Japanese B-Max Racing Team colours in a Dallara Volkswagen.
Other headliners on the grid in Macau will include:
– 2011 Macau Grand Prix winner, 2012 FIA Formula 3 European Champion and DTM driver Daniel Juncadella
– 2014 Macau podium winner, 2015 All-Japan F3 Champion and 2016 FIA F3 European Championship race winner Nick Cassidy
– FIA F3 European Championship race winners George Russell, Callum Ilott, Joel Eriksson, Anthoine Hubert and Niko Kari (Red Bull Junior driver and North European F4 Champion); Ralf Aron (Italian F4 Champion) is also expected to enter
– Former Karting World Champion and British F4 Champion Lando Norris
– Japanese F3 championship race winner Daiki Sasaki
– 2015 Macau podium winner Alexander Sims.
The field as it is currently constituted has drivers from 14 countries.
A driver that has not done much racing in recent months provides one of the nicer stories on the provisional grid, with Carlin’s Peter Zhi Cong Li scheduled to return from his serious accident at the Red Bull Ring in May.
Recently crowned FIA F3 European Champion Lance Stroll will not participate in Macau due to other commitments.