Teen F3 debutant Alex Lynn beats seasoned drivers in qualifying
The Macau Grand Prix is supposed to be the ultimate test of a Formula 3 driver's abilities, but teenage debutant Alex Lynn made it look easy yesterday on his debut at the Guia Circuit.
The 19-year-old from Essex is competing in F3 for the first time this season and had never been to Macau, but held off two vastly more experienced rivals to take pole in today's qualifying race.
The Fortec driver, who was fourth fastest in Thursday's first qualifying session, sailed to victory in yesterday's second session, improving his time by six-tenths of a second ahead of Carlin's Antonio da Costa, who has tested for F1 teams and is competing in his third Macau GP, and Prema Powerteam's Daniel Juncadella, last year's winner who is also on his third visit.
Lynn's only experience of the track was through digital renditions and trudging the streets on foot, but it did not show as he looked completely in command.
"Fortec put a lot of effort into all of us, we were on the simulator all the time, having meetings, going through video data every week," he said. "It was a pretty massive amount of prep, but I didn't come here with any expectations at all.
"I just clicked with the track, I'm not sure why. Yesterday afternoon we were pretty solid, and it's been a great day today."
Having come here just aiming not to embarrass himself, Lynn is now dreaming of bigger things. "My honest expectations were to finish the race and finish in the top 10, and that would be a great achievement," he added.
"Obviously we're in a good position to better that but I'm not going to change my approach. It's a one-off event and I'm going to give it everything I can.
"I'll be surprised if I can win tomorrow's qualification race. I've got so many great guys behind me and they'll probably show me how it's done, but who knows what we can do."
Today's qualification race determines grid positions for tomorrow's 15-lap main event. With the homework done in Britain, this week has been all about getting used to the climate, overcoming jet-lag and sightseeing. The laid-back approach seems to have worked.
"We've not thought about the race too much, just left the driving to come naturally and put in the effort we could and not asked for anything more," added Lynn, who was fourth in British Formula 3 this year. "It's really just come naturally.
"I really had to raise my game this year and it took me time to realise that. We always said when we stepped off the boat could you imagine winning this race, let alone competing, so we're dreaming."