Nothing but the win
There arguably isn't another racetrack on this planet fascinating as much as Macau's street circuit. The 6.2-kilometre Guia Circuit curls through the former Portuguese colony located close to Hong Kong. For many years now, the peninsula Macau has been - just as Hong Kong - one of China's special economic areas. One thing, however, has remained: the Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix.
From 19th to 22nd November, the 56th Macau Grand Prix will once again be held as the Formula 3 World Finals, with the best international Formula 3 drivers meeting there to battle it out with one another. Also on the grid: the ATS Formula 3 Cup Champion and the runner-up. Belgium's Laurens Vanthoor and Dutchman Stef Dusseldorp will have to meet a major challenge, at the coast of the Southern Chinese Sea: they will have to prove their skills on a grid featuring 30 top-class Formula 3 drivers, such as the champions of the four most competitive Formula 3 series.
The Formula 3 Euro Series is represented by Frenchman Jules Bianchi. The 20-year old won the 2008 Formula 3 Masters that is regarded as European counterpart of the Macau Grand Prix. In last year's Macau GP, Bianchi finished ninth. His Team Principal, Frederic Vasseur, is convinced: "Jules has got all the qualities it takes to succeed in the highest motor-racing categories." It goes without saying that a driver praised like this has to be regarded as one of the favourites for this weekend's event.
A Macau newcomer but the dominating champion in the UK: Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian won seven of the 20 British Formula 3 Championship rounds and secured a total of 14 podium finishes. He certainly should be expected among the top 10 but as a Macau rookie, he won't be one of the real favourites.
The opposite is the case when it comes to Marcus Ericsson, the Japanese Formula 3 Champion. And there are several reasons for this assessment: on the one hand, his team. TOM's, always has been keen on delivering in the Macau Grand Prix. Nearly not other team displays similar determination when it comes to racing at Macau. On the other, Ericsson knows what he will have to cope with as it is his second race appearance, there.
The same applies to Laurens Vanthoor who represents the ATS Formula 3 Cup. Having secured the Cup title in superior style, the 18-year old now wants to celebrate a major international Formula 3 triumph. Last year, Vanthoor gathered his first experiences at the difficult street circuit - and secured the fine sixth place, nevertheless. So, he now must be regarded as one of the favourites for the 56th Macau Grand Prix.
And there is a former ATS Formula 3 Cup drivers who could win this year's World Finals: Carlo van Dam. In 2007, the Dutchman won the ATS Formula 3 Cup title and in the following season he repeated this feat in the Japanese Formula 3 Championship. Could he be the 2009 Macau Grand Prix winner?
In the gambling paradise Macau, where the gambling industry makes more money than in Las Vegas, today, winning is the only thing that counts. While the runner-up and the third placed drivers are forgotten just a few days after the event, the winner may hope for his major breakthrough. He takes centre stage and is watched by the international motor-racing fraternity. Wins at Macau never are forgotten. Such as the one of Ayrton Senna who won the event in 1983 - or Michael Schumacher's triumph in 1990.