The Macau Grand Prix will this year take place without its signature Formula 3 race for the first time in 37 years, the annual motor-racing event’s organising committee said at a press conference today.
The widely expected news was announced by Pun Weng Kun, the director of the Macao Sports Bureau (ID) who heads the Macau Grand Prix Organising Committee, during the press conference at the Macau Fisherman’s Wharf Convention and Exhibition Centre.
It will be the first time since 1983 that the F3 race is not part of the Macau Grand Prix (MGP), which this year’s marks its 67th edition. The first F3 race in Macao was won by Ayrton Senna.
The 67th Macau Grand Prix will be held 19-22 November, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, its programme will be curtailed.
The renowned motor-racing publishing brand Autosport said in an article today it understood that the biggest stumbling block for F3 teams is Macao’s 14-day quarantine regulations in response to the novel coronavirus crisis.
The article pointed out that this time the MGP will be contested with Formula 4 cars, “bringing an end to 37 years as the blue riband of Formula 3 competition.”
According to Wikipedia, FIA Formula 4, also called FIA F4, is an open-wheel racing car category intended for junior drivers. There is no global championship, but rather individual nations or regions can host their own championships in compliance with a universal set of rules and specifications.
Pun said that the F4 race was mainly earmarked for drivers who have competed in the category in the Chinese mainland. He was quick to add that Macao drivers who have experience in F4 races were “welcome” to join the race in Macao.
Unlike the F3 race, the 54th Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix will go ahead, but due to the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s motorbike races have been cancelled in Europe so riders will be invited based on the results of last year’s race in Macao, according to the press conference.
The organising committee also said it expected this year’s MGP to comprise “six to seven” races such as for touring cars and GT3 and GT4 specification cars. The traditional Guia Race will be run according to TCR touring car specifications.
Pun said that about 200 drivers and riders had shown their willingness to compete in the upcoming MGP.
Tickets will be priced at MOP 50 (US$6.25) for the event’s two practice days and between MOP 400 and MOP 1,000 for its two race days.
Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Elsie Ao Ieong U said in a speech at the press conference that the MGP would bring “positive energy” to Macao during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MGP, the world’s only street circuit racing event in which both cars and motorcycles participate, has been held since 1954. The Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix was launched in 1976. Since 1983, the F3 race has been the highlight of the race weekend.
Macao has confirmed 46 COVID-19 cases since 22 January. All patients have been discharged from hospital. Macao has not confirmed a new novel coronavirus case for 77 days.
Foreign nationals without a residence permit in Macao have been barred from entering the special administrative region since early this year.