Mortara returns for more Macau glory

Italian ace has put his F1 ambitions on the backburner, preferring to compete in touring cars these days as he defends his Macau GT Cup

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 November, 2012, 1:43am

The list of Macau Grand Prix competitors who have gone on to Formula One success is long; 16 of this season's 24 F1 drivers raced at the Guia circuit. The list of people who've won it more than once since it became a Formula Three race is considerably shorter, with just one name on it.

Edoardo Mortara is that name, after back-to-back wins in 2009 and 2010. Given that such drivers as Ayrton Senna, Michael and Ralf Schumacher, David Coulthard, et al went on to hugely successful F1 careers after just one Macau win, you might think constructors would be battling for Mortara's signature. Yet at 25, the Italian is almost ready to give up on the dream, despite taking part in the F1 Young Drivers Test in Abu Dhabi last week.

The Italian, back in Macau to defend the City of Dreams Macau GT Cup trophy he won last year for his third race win in a row in Macau, just completed his second season in DTM. He finished fifth for former F1 world champion Keke Rosberg's team, and admits taking the guarantee of a solid career in the touring car championship might be wiser than chasing an F1 seat that might never materialise.

"I did one day in Abu Dhabi with Lotus [finishing third-fastest] - my first time behind the wheel of an F1 car, and it was wonderful, a fantastic opportunity," said Mortara, who holds the F3 lap record in Macau. "I'll never forget it, it was probably one of the best experiences I've had in my life.

"F1 is a special world and I didn't get any feedback, but that's kind of normal and you don't have to take it badly.

"They saw what I was capable of doing and if they want to take some decisions I'm sure they will, but that test also was not, especially from my point of view, about going there to land a F1 seat. My idea was to help the team, achieve the best I could and try not to look too bad.

"[But] I'm focused on my own things right now. DTM is more of a certain future for me than F1."

The DTM circuit, in which drivers pilot Audi, BMW and Mercedes cars that look like their road-going counterparts on the outside but are highly advanced, near prototypes underneath, features a mix of experienced drivers, some of whom like Coulthard and Ralf Schumacher have F1 experience, and up-and-comers like Mortara.

"It's going great, I'm enjoying myself in the DTM championship, it's a really tough championship with a lot of great drivers," added Mortara, who tested the Audi R8 LMS Ultra he will drive in the GT Cup around the Guai circuit yesterday. "The level of drivers in my opinion is almost as high as F1 and to achieve good races there you need to be a good driver but also the complete racing package.

"It's a professional series with professional drivers so for the ones who can't go to F1 for many reasons, because they don't have money or sponsorship or don't get the chances, DTM is a wonderful opportunity.

"I'm a good example. I won here twice in F3 and I tried to go to F1, but there was never really a chance for me so DTM for me is fantastic opportunity to show what I'm capable of behind a steering wheel in a high-level car."

Scotland's Paul di Resta has made the switch from DTM to F1, so it can be done, but equally the series offers a well-paid, rewarding living, albeit without the huge rewards and worldwide fame of the more glamorous circuit.

"It can be done, as Paul showed, but what's really nice for DTM is that he went to F1 and showed that he's capable of good races, showing how good the level is in DTM and how good their drivers could be in F1.

"If [Formula One] comes, amazing … but I don't think so. I've got a good relationship with Audi and I think it's the way to go."

Meanwhile, Mortara set the fastest lap in yesterday's opening practice session, going round in 2:24.153. His lap was 1.657 seconds faster than his closest challenger, former F1 driver Lucas Di Grassi in a Ferrari 458 GT3. Third fastest was FIA World Endurance Championship driver Romain Dumas of France in his Porsche 911 GT3 R.