Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix

By the early 1980s the Macau Grand Prix had developed from the noisy newborn of the 1950s, and through the adolescence of the late 1960s and 70s. The event was growing up and, in 1983, it came of age with the introduction of Formula 3. This was an inspired move brought about by the realization that the Atlantic Formula being run in Macao at that time had little relevance in the world at large, and a change simply had to be made if the event was to continue attracting top teams and drivers. Formula 2 cars were too fast for the Guia Circuit’s legendary tight turns, and Formula 1 was out of the question for the same reason, only more so. Therefore, the idea of bringing Formula 3 to Macao came into being.

The 30th Macau Grand Prix in 1983 was also the inaugural Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix was won by one of the greatest drivers the world has ever seen - Brazilian Ayrton Senna. In 1988, the 35th Macau Grand Prix was awarded the title of the FIA Formula 3 World Cup by the sport’s world governing body.

One primary reason for the success of Formula 3 and the Macau Grand Prix has been the stability of the technical regulations. The category, instigated in the late 1940s, has always been for lightweight single-seater racing cars, which over time became recognised as recognised as ‘baby’ Formula 1 cars.

The engine regulations introduced in 1974 were still in force in 1983, when the first Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix was firstly held. These powerplants were based on 2.0-litre production blocks, with power reduced by a 24mm-diameter air restrictor. Back in 1983, this meant the cars were pushing out roughly 160bhp. In 1997, the air restrictors were enlarged to 26mm, meaning power and speeds rose slightly. The regulations remained very similar until 2014, when the new FIA rules dropped the stipulation that engines had to be based on production powerplants – although some of them still are. The new generation of engines raised the air-restrictor diameter to 28mm, meaning power of approximately 220bhp.