Macau Grand Prix 2018: Maro Engel all smiles with Edoardo Mortara despite Formula E snub to partner Felipe Massa
- Mortara wants back-to-back GT World Cup titles in Macau with Mercedes-AMG
- Teammate Engel says ‘we’re here to take the cup again – hopefully back to my house’
Maro Engel may have been snubbed by Formula E team Venturi in favour of Edoardo Mortara to partner Felipe Massa next season, but the Mercedes-AMG pair seem fully on song ahead of this weekend’s GT World Cup at the Macau Grand Prix.
Venturi team principal Susie Wolff said Mortara was a “better fit” with ex-Formula One star Massa, despite the Swiss-Italian finishing two points behind 12th-placed Engel in the Formula E driver’s championship last season.
German Engel, 33, is focused solely on a win for Mercedes in Macau, however, though he wouldn’t mind adding to his own personal silverware haul after lifting the trophy in 2014.
“It’s hard to say what the expectation is but certainly the aim is to win – we’re here to take the cup and hopefully also back to my house,” Engel said, laughing, at a Mercedes-Benz media session at the Guia Circuit. “We want to defend the title. I’d like to take the title again.
“We’ll see on the weekend. You cannot read too much into the [practice] times for now. The car feels good, the team has worked really hard to prepare the car. It’s going to be tight as always.”
Mortara, 31, is looking for back-to-back wins and his seventh victory overall in Macau. The man affectionately known as “Mr Macau” won the Formula Three Macau Grand Prix twice in 2009 and 2010, before another four consecutive wins from 2010 to 2013 in the Macau GT Cup.
“Competition is tough, it’s getting tougher and tougher each year,” Mortara said. “It’s gonna be a challenge for sure to be competitive this year. We have to do a good job to beat the others.
“It’s always a pleasure to come here, I’ve been coming for quite some time, yeah. I enjoy it very much, it’s very challenging for the drivers.”
The two drivers, along with Raffaele Marciello of Italy, will race in the Mercedes-AMG GT3 car this weekend.
“Edo took the first Macau win with the car last year, backed up with my third place,” Engel said. “I’m happy to be a part of it and continue this success story.
“As always it’s hotly contested, there are some very strong cars, teams and drivers. We really need to be the best possible we can be, because the competition for sure is not sleeping.
“The usual suspects will be strong, but to be honest it’s hard to predict. It’s better not to predict anything, just go as quick as possible and look at the result at the end.”
Mortara finished with a lap time of 2:18.717 in Thursday’s opening free practice session, ahead of seventh-placed Engel (2:19.399). Marciello finished last in 15th with a time of 2:34.222.
“We have the chance to have a very reliable car, that gives you the confidence to push to the absolute limit,” Mortara said.
“Whether in sprint races or endurance races, we don’t need to care so much about the car any more.”
Engel said that while Macau may just be a normal race weekend, the preparation that goes into the event is still “special”.
“It’s only been three years for me. But it’s an absolute pleasure and a highlight to come here,” he said. “It’s such an amazing event, the circuit is absolutely fantastic.
“The whole lap is a highlight, from the start down at Mandarin, it’s a real challenge. The mountain section is very special as well.
“There are so many enthusiastic fans, it’s just so great to be here. I can hear the whole buzz and vibe about this event. It’s very special for us drivers.”