A tight, twisty tradition that has become international F3 racing’s annual showpiece
writer Peter Higham
One of Formula 1’s fiercest rivalries was ignited 25 years ago on the final lap of the Macau GP. Mika Häkkinen was the season’s outstanding F3 talent, having won the British title with West Surrey Racing. He qualified on pole at Macau and won the first heat by 2.66sec from Michael Schumacher.
Häkkinen then shadowed the German during heat two, with a secure aggregate win in his hands. Eager to secure his 13th win of the year, however, he attempted to pass his rival as they entered that last lap. The cars touched and Häkkinen was sent crashing into the barriers at approximately 150mph. Schumacher went on to victory and their rivalry would later give F1 some added sparkle.
The Macau GP has been held on the twisty Guia street circuit every year since 1954 – as a low-key sports car, Formule Libre or F/Pacific event before F3 rules were adopted in 1983. Ayrton Senna scored an impressive victory that year and it has since been an unofficial F3 World Cup. Edoardo Mortara, who in 2010 became the first back-to-back winner for 30 years, currently holds the lap record at an average speed of 104.669mph. In addition to the F3 race, Macau held the final rounds of the World Touring Car Championship from 2005 to 2014.
The original circuit followed the same route as today, although some roads were still unpaved and the trees and lamp posts that lined the track were merely painted with a white stripe to warn competitors…