Revving up Rosenqvist: Felix da Costa and Daniel Juncadella target Macau Grand Prix champion
Macau Grand Prix boasts the hottest field ever assembled with past winners Da Costa and Juncadella determined to deny Felix Rosenqvist a hat-trick
The battle lines are being drawn before next week’s Macau Grand Prix as two ex-champions plot to dethrone Felix Rosenqvist, the Swedish sensation who is preparing to chase a historic three-peat of victories in the marquee Formula Three event.
In what is being heralded as the hottest field ever assembled, the 63rd staging of the famous race will see Rosenqvist – the 2014 and 2015 champion – line up against Antonio Felix da Costa (2012 champion) and Daniel Juncadella (2011 champion) in a field brimming with international talent.
The trio of Macau champions have been lighting a fuse under each other over the past few weeks with some good-natured banter on Twitter as both Da Costa and Juncadella look to turn the heat on their rival.
“He is a quick driver, with lots of talent and loves the sport,” said Da Costa. “We are going to have to step it up a bit.”
For the 25-year-old Portuguese driver, next week marks a return to Formula Three racing after a break of more than three years – time Da Costa has spent racing in the Formula Renault, the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters and the Formula E championships.
In 2012, he held off Rosenqvist in the race to the chequered flag and Da Costa said he had kept close tabs on his rival’s exploits since, as the Swede collected those two Macau titles as well as last year’s FIA European Formula Three Championship. The pair has also been part of this season’s Formula E circuit as well.
“I see a lot of me in him,” said Da Costa, who will line up again for Carlin’s Volkswagen in Macau. “We are going back to Macau for the love of the sport. Back in 2012, I was winning every race. I can’t really tell you why – it was like the opposite feeling of this year and I could do no wrong. I was just winning everything.
“Then I went to Macau for a one-off race and won that too, and that was the cherry on top of the cake. I am hoping that everything will go right for me once again.”
Juncadella, who will line up in the Hitech GP Mercedes, will come into the race off a mixed season of results in the DTM series – and with a point to prove, he said, after a crash in qualifying ruled him out of contention in the Macau F3 last year.
“[Rosenqvist] is in great form in Macau but we all know it’s not only going to depend on that form,” said the 25-year-old Spaniard.
“Macau is special and different to any other race. You need everything to go your way. Only thing I can do is be quicker than him during the weekend to get under his skin and make him think a little bit more.
“I’ve had strong results and great performances at the end of the season in Europe so I’m very excited for what Macau may bring this year,” Juncadella said.
“I’ve been saying for past month that I think Macau owes me one, so let’s hope the compensation for last year’s bad luck comes as soon as possible.”