Motorsports | Don’t count Sophia Flörsch out of this year’s Macau Grand Prix

German driver Sophia Flörsch’s participation in this year’s FIA Formula 3 World Cup race, to be held on the streets of Macau’s Guia Circuit, has not been completely ruled out yet.

The Times has learned that Flörsch yesterday made her debut in a Formula 3 International post-season training event held in Valencia, Spain, driving a single-seater from German squad HWA RACELAB.

Her participation in the training event has prompted speculation that the young driver is mulling participation in the Macau F3 next month.

Last year, Flörsch suffered spinal fractures during the Macau Grand Prix F3 race, after her mono-seat collided at high speed with Japanese driver Sho Tsuboi’s car, going through a catch fence at the Lisboa bend. The car then hit a photographers’ bunker on the perimeter and dropped to the ground.

The driver underwent a seven-hour successful surgery at the public hospital and was named as an ambassador of goodwill to Macau.

Rumors regarding Flörsch’s possible return to Macau after last year’s accident started earlier this month, when she hinted over social media that a major announcement would be made.

Several media outlets speculated that the announcement would be related to her return to Macau for the F3 race this year, however the attention-catching post was eventually removed, giving the impression that something had changed regarding her plans.

As reported by Hoje Macau, the German driver refuted comments made by the president of the Macau Grand Prix Organizing Committee (MGPOC), Pun Weng Kun, who suggested that during the presentation of the first version of the GP entry lists last week, the German driver’s lack of experience had been pointed out which was the reason for her lack of participation.

Flörsch clarified the issue with the Portuguese language daily newspaper, saying the only issue preventing her from joining the event was budget and not lack of experience.

“I need 65,000 euros [MOP585,000] to do Macau,” she said. “The 2018 accident cost me and my family about 80,000 euros [MOP720,000]. So, I am struggling with a lack of money.”

Flörsch’s participation in the last day of post-season tests might indicate that she has found a way to overcome her financial limitations over the last few days, simultaneously granting her some time behind the wheel of the F3 car to “gain more experience.”

“This year I was two or three times ahead of [Dan] Ticktum in the Regional Formula,” said Flörsch. Ticktum is the double winner of the Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix and his appearance on the entry lists was a surprise.

In other news from the last of tests in Valencia, Billy Monger and Max Fewtrell have returned to their original seats from day 1, turning out for Carlin Buzz and Hitech Grand Prix respectively.

Other notable returns included 20-year-old Lirim Zendeli, who had switched teams and appeared to be driving a car from Trident, while Andreas Estner stepped into a Jenzer Motorsport machine.

Daruvala becomes latest to drop out

The end-of-season game of “musical chairs” has resulted in another vacant seat, this time on one of racing’s most celebrated teams.
According to an official statement from SJM Prema Theodore Racing, the team will be replacing 21-year-old Indian racer Jehan Daruvala in one of their cars. The racer had been presented on the team’s lineup for Macau.

The short statement only notes that Daruvala “will not be able to drive in the 66th Macau Grand Prix, having suffered a knee injury in a training incident.”

At this time, it is unclear when this incident occurred and whether the extent of the injury justifies the dropout.

At the same time, the team said, “Jehan’s health and fitness must come first and everyone at SJM Prema Theodore Racing wishes him a really quick recovery,” and “a replacement driver for the team’s number 3 car will be announced at a later date.”

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