Raffaele Marciello shows his class by snatching Macau Grand Prix pole

18-year-old Italian shows why he is tipped for the big time in Formula One

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 November, 2013, 11:15pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 November, 2013, 11:15pm

Formula 3 European Champion Raffaele Marciello showed why he's hotly tipped for the F1 big time with a blistering lap to take pole position for today's Macau Grand Prix qualification race.

The 18-year-old Italian, a member of Ferrari's Driver Academy, hadn't pushed himself in any of the early practice or qualifying sessions but turned on the speed in yesterday's final session to lap in two minutes and 11.555 seconds and take front spot for today's race, the result of which decides the grid for tomorrow's main event.

"I didn't push at all in practice one and two so I had a lot of margin all weekend," said the Prema Powerteam driver. "In qualification I took a good slipstream and managed to do a good lap. It will be a difficult race but I'm confident we can do a good job tomorrow - but Sunday is the most important.

"There's not a lot of difference here between first, second, third, but of course I feel very proud - it's such a famous track and it's great to be on pole."

Felix Rosenqvist (Mucke Motorsport) was second, just 0.067 seconds slower, followed by Alex Lynn (Prema, +0.084) and Lucas Auer (Prema, 0.497) - the top four is the same as the top four overall finish in this season's F3 European Championship. Last year's winner, Antonio Felix da Costa, was fifth.

There's not a lot of difference here between first, second, third, but of course I feel very proud - it's such a famous track and it's great to be on pole
Raffaele Marciello

"I had a really good slipstream and in the second sector I was really happy but … maybe I went a little slow in the final corners," said Rosenqvist, who had provisional pole after the first qualifying session and has been battling food poisoning all week.

"I was sure I had pole then I heard he beat me, but I don't think it matters too much - you just want to be in the top three [after Saturday] and you can be fighting for the win on Sunday."

In today's motorbike race, Ian Hutchinson will start from pole, despite racing for the first time in 18 months. He has been battling to save his left leg after a horrific accident in 2010 and has undergone 29 operations since, but the English Milwaukee Yamaha rider nipped pole from eight-time winner and defending champion Michael Rutter (SMT Racing Honda) by just five-hundredths of a second in the second qualifying session yesterday (two minutes and 25.568 seconds compared to 2:25.625).

"I never expected to get pole but was hoping for a front-row start. I'm pleased it's come out like this and nice to get praise from all the riders. I've had a lot of support," said the 34-year-old, the first man to win all five solo Isle of Man TT races at the same meet in 2010. A winner in 2001, John McGuinness was third (2:27.447) as he tries to add a second Macau victory.

James Porteous