2012 Macau Grand Prix champion Antonio Felix da Costa (Carlin) has overcome four red flag periods and three assaults on his leading position to take provisional pole for the inaugural FIA F3 World Cup at Macau.

Da Costa  and defending champion Felix Rosenqvist (Theodore Racing), at 25 amongst the oldest drivers in the field, bookended 18-year old Callum Ilott (Van Amersfoort Racing) to lock out the top three places in a crash strewn qualifying.

British driver Lando Norris, European F3 Rookie of the Year Joel Eriksson, Daniel Juncadella, and Sho Tsuboi all crashed out in separate incidents triggering red flags while their cars were cleared from the tight track.

Da Costa claimed pole on 2min11.535 seconds, 0.226 seconds clear of Ilott who was just .036 seconds ahead of Rosenqvist.

In a see-sawing battle for pole, Da Costa relinquished the position on two occasions firstly to the mercurial Norris who turned 17 just one week ago and  was fearless in attack in his debut at Macau.

Norris (Carlin) snatched pole early in the session from the experienced Portugese driver but then slammed heavily into the fence.

“I missed my apex by just a slight amount, but it was enough to stop me making the corner,” Norris said.

His time, a 2min11.996 seconds was sufficient to claim seventh in the first of Macau’s two qualifying sessions.

Japanese F3 champion Kenta Yamashita attacked at the restart to again bump Da Costa back.

Yamashita (Three Bond with T-Sport) set a best time of 2min 11.797 in the pole race, ultimately enough for fourth position. His time was equal to the thousandths of a second with Rosenqvist.

Juncadella started the session with a spin and ended it with a heavy crash into the wall coming onto the straight out of the uphill section of track. His best time of 2min11.821 was fifth fastest.

Da Costa,one of the most experienced Macau drivers in the field, said pressure from debutant drivers had ramped up remarkably.

“Experience counts for everything at Macau, but there’s no doubt the young drivers are pushing harder than ever before , “ he said.

Competitors in the FIA F3 World Cup face a further qualifying session tomorrow before a qualifying race on Saturday and the World Cup on Sunday.

FIA Press Release