Felix took a conservative approach into the first of two qualifying sessions for the 2014 Macau Grand Prix, refraining from any new-tyre attempts to end up a provisional ninth on the grid for Saturday’s Qualification Race.
With the Macau event structure featuring two separate qualifying sessions, the rules stipulate that each driver’s fastest lap from either outing (Thursday or Friday) accounts for their respective grid slots for Saturday’s Qualification Race (the outcome of which in turn sets up the grid for Sunday’s all-important finale).
With limits on tyre use also in place, Felix and Mücke Motorsport opted to remain on old Yokohama rubber throughout today’s qualifying session in order to stand themselves in better stead for tomorrow’s second showdown (when tarmac grip levels are expected to improve).
In doing so, Felix had to make do with ninth on Thursday, ending up one place ahead of 2014 FIA F3 European Champion Esteban Ocon (10th) and just over a second in arrears of pace-setter Tom Blomqvist.
Ocon, and 2015 Toro Rosso Formula 1 signing Max Verstappen, will both have to serve two-place grid penalties for Saturday’s Qualification Race after failing to stop for weight checks in free practice this morning.
Friday activities at Macau will mirror those of today, with another practice session followed by second qualifying.
“Not a perfect session for us, but given our strategy, it could have been worse. The track is likely to improve a lot by tomorrow, and we want to have as fresh tyres as possible for then. We also experimented quite a bit on different set-up paths today, and I’m confident we’ve got more in the bag. Having said that, there is still a clear room for improvement, and the car is not as balanced as I would like. We’ll get a clearer idea of our true performance tomorrow, but I’m feeling optimistic for the rest of the event.”