Nicholas Latifi took fifth in the Macau Grand Prix for SJM Theodore Racing by Prema from ninth on the grid.
While the Canadian earned a good result, there was disappointment for his team-mates Esteban Ocon and Antonio Fuoco, who both failed to finish.
Frenchman Ocon was battling for the lead on the opening lap when he collided with Tom Blomqvist at the Lisboa bend. This broke his steering, and he was unable to avoid hitting the barriers at the next corner, causing a pile-up, a track blockage and a red flag.
Fuoco was also caught up in the accident and the SJM Theodore Racing by Prema mechanics worked wonders to change the entire left-front assembly of his car before the restart, which he took from the pit-lane. Unfortunately, there was not enough time to bleed the brakes and, after making progress up the field, he retired with four laps remaining due to brake troubles.
Latifi got through the incident unscathed and was fifth for the entire duration of the restart. He ran very close to Roberto Merhi in the battle for fourth, and twice attempted to brave it out with the Spaniard to take the place, finishing just 0.614 seconds behind.
Theodore Racing returned to the Macau Grand Prix in 2013, the event’s 60th year, in a decision taken by Teddy Yip Jr as a tribute to his father, the late Teddy Yip, who was synonymous with the race. Under Yip Sr’s guidance, Theodore Racing won the Macau Grand Prix six times, including with Ayrton Senna in 1983. Alex Lynn then became a first-time winner for Yip Jr in 2013.
The team's sponsor is Sociedade de Jogos de Macau, S.A. (SJM), the only gaming concessionaire which has its roots in Macau. SJM is famous for its links with the Macau Grand Prix, dating back to the 1960s when, as STDM, it began a long-standing relationship with the race and with Yip Sr.
"After the accident I’m glad everyone is OK,” said Yip Jr. “The guys did a fantastic job to get Antonio's car back in the race, but unfortunately it didn't last the distance. Nicholas on the other hand did a fantastic job to hold fifth throughout the race. I thought he was going to get fourth a couple of times but it wasn't to be. Congratulations to former Theodore driver Lucas Auer on his second-place finish. I look forward to next year.”
Theodore Racing managing director David Kennedy added: “We set the bar so high last year that it was always going to be difficult to pull it off, but we came within an inch of it. Esteban was outstanding, Nicholas drove a solid race and the weekend didn’t go Antonio’s way. But we showed again that Theodore are ready to fight for the win, and roll on next year. Thanks to SJM and Mercedes, who were delighted with the efforts - they know that this was one that got away.”
“It’s a very good result, but I’m disappointed that it was the maximum I could have got unless something happened. We opted to go really low on downforce, the least I think of everybody on the grid, and it still didn’t give us the top speed we were hoping for. Then the tyre degradation got worse and they started to pull a gap in front of me. But I’m pleased with fifth.”
“My start was everything I planned – going round the outside of Mandarin to get a good tow. Then I was on the inside for Lisboa and Tom turned on me and broke my front-left suspension. Then it was all over. My wheel started to vibrate and I couldn’t steer, and we both went in the wall. We definitely had the pace to win. The changes we made, the car felt brilliant – the best all year. It was really quick on the straight and the balance really good.”
“Obviously I’m disappointed that we didn’t finish the race, and that the Macau Grand Prix didn’t go as well as I hoped on my first visit. The accident on the first lap from my position was completely unavoidable, and thanks to the guys for working so hard to get me back into the race. In the end, the brake problems meant it wasn’t worth risking a crash in the position I was in.”