Ferdinand Habsburg cemented his name as one of the leading young single-seater drivers this weekend, as he performed a stand-out performance from start to finish with Carlin Racing in the FIA F3 World Cup at Macau GP.
The season finale concluded with the 20-year old having the drive of his life to take the lead of the race on the final corner before a clip with the wall saw him cross the line in fourth.
The Macau street circuit takes no prisoners; make one mistake and your race is over. But, with competition arguably tougher than ever, the 24 F3 cars must be driven on the edge to be in with a chance of getting the much coveted race win.
Habsburg’s plan was clear; qualify inside the top-five, end the qualifying race inside the top-five and with no damage and then use the main race to make his attack on the podium. At the start of the fifteen lap finale he was in fifth place on the grid and ready for the race of his life.
“This is the one that everyone wants to win,” he commented. “It’s where heroes are made. Win this and you have said to the world; I’m fast, brave and in control. That’s what everyone wants to do.”
With a great start, the young Austrian climbed to fourth place and the podium was in touching position. Just two laps later and the race leader was in the wall at San Francisco – Habsburg made a fantastic move to avoid getting caught up and took third place.
With Carlin Racing team-mate Lando Norris now hot on his heels, Habsburg knew that defending was as important as attacking and confidently kept him at bay while gaining on the top two.
“With the streets so narrow, you need to make sure pressure from the car behind doesn’t get to you,” he explained. “You only have to be an inch off line and it’s over… then it doesn’t matter what the car behind you is doing!”
With several yellow flags hindering his progress, Habsburg didn’t get a chance to challenge Gunther (DE) for second place until lap 11 but, when he did it, it was the move of the race.
“Getting past Gunther was awesome. I’d planned the move in my head during the yellow flag period and I just had to execute it – get a good drag along the straight, make the move to his left and then move over to the right in front of him so he couldn’t attack back,” said Habsburg who now just had the race leader, Sette Câmara (BR), to contend with.
Clearly driving on the edge, both drivers weaved through the narrow streets but it was clear that Habsburg was putting pressure on the Brazilian who was close to making a mistake. On the final lap of the the race, Habsburg was right on his tail. Swapping positions, the pair put on a show worthy of ‘race of the year’ but, going into the final corner, Habsburg was in second place.
“I’ll be honest, this was a real win or bust move for me,” he said. “Of course, a podium is great, but who remembers the kid who finished in second place? I wanted that win so badly and I knew I could do it.”
With Fisherman’s Corner notoriously difficult, it was a daring move for Habsburg to take a pass attempt but the win was in sight and it was all or bust. With a fantastic move he passed and took the race lead with Sette Camara clipping the wall behind him. However, the bumpy track unsettled the F3 car and Habsburg also clipped the wall. He carried on and dragged himself and his trusted steed across the line in fourth place.
“Like I said, it’s a shame to miss a podium but I gave that race all I have. I think I’ve shown what I’m capable of and I’m happy with that. I’m gutted that I didn’t cross the line in P1, of course, but I crossed the line and no one can accuse me of not being ballsy enough.”