01 Devlin DeFrancesco
02 Toto Wolff
03 James Alison
Eager to raise to any challenge, Devlin DeFrancesco took to the streets of Macau for the first time, making his debut at the Suncity Group Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix this weekend. Fresh off the back of his Spanish F3 title, the 17-year-old racer relished the opportunity to tackle the punishing track in only his third outing in FIA F3 machinery.
Full of mystique and steeped in history, the Macau Grand Prix provides a challenge like no other. Revered by racing drivers, the thin ribbon of track weaves through the high rise buildings, making it the one of the most challenging street circuits in the world. The jewel in the F3 crown; Macau attracts rookies and established drivers alike.
Teaming up with reigning champions Carlin, Devlin strapped into the FIA European Formula 3-spec car, for two qualifying and practice sessions on Thursday and Friday. Un-phased by being the youngest on the grid, the Italian-Canadian was quick to master his machinery, testing the grip and carving his lines as the times toppled in. At a track synonymous with red flags, both qualifying and practice sessions proved no exception, hampering Devlin’s chances of giving a true show of pace. His best time netting 14th for the first race of the weekend, which sets the grid for the Grand Prix, the confident racer looked to challenge his rivals:
“Macau is fiercely challenging, but very enjoyable. Qualifying was a mixed bag, our runs were massively compromised by the red flags, which is a shame as we definitely had the pace for the top 10. But it’s all about building and I’m looking forward to racing forward in the qualifying race”
Launching off the line, Devlin wasted no time in challenging for position as the pack steamed into the first corner. Making a clean first lap, the crowd were treated to a thrilling hard-fought battle as the F3 drivers thread their way through the barriers. With strong pace and trust in his abilities, Devlin mounted his attack on P13, lining up alongside his rival. But narrowly missing his braking point he was forced to run wide into Lisboa, skilfully escaping the barriers he swiftly returned to track. Crossing the line in P21, the resolute driver left it all to play for in the Grand Prix.
Hungry for action, Devlin gave chase as the lights went out for the historic Macau Grand Prix, charging through the field to P14 before the first safety car was called. Eager to capitalise on the restart. Devlin put the power down and found himself in P13 as the thrilling race got back underway. Running as high as P12 by lap 7, the Toronto-born driver showcased his skills in a close battle for position with Ilott. Holding off the challenge from behind, throughout the narrow streets, until Ilott benefitting from slipstream, managed to edge his way by.
With five laps remaining, Devlin engaged in a battle for P13 with Daruvala, but as the pair fought hard into Lisboa, a slight misjudgment of braking and a kiss to the barrier brought Devlin’s race to an untimely end.
Despite a disappointing end to his first outing at a street circuit, Devlin more than proved his worth with an impressive display of skill and resolute attitude across a challenging weekend. Rounding off his successful 2017 season, the 17-year-old looks ahead to build on his experience as he heads into a promising 2018.