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Armstrong has “unfinished business” with Macau Grand Prix

Marcus Armstrong says he feels like he has "unfinished business" at the Macau Grand Prix as he returns to compete for the first time since 2019.

Marcus Armstrong, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

The New Zealander finished eighth in two previous appearances, including his debut in 2018 in the old-style Formula 3 machinery. This year, he will drive the #29 entry for MP Motorsport.

Now, though, Armstrong comes in with a deeper well of experience as the 2023 IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year.

“I feel like I have unfinished business there,” Armstrong told Autosport. “Although, my second year, I felt like we probably should have been competing for the win, but we had a crash in the pre-final with (another driver).

"There was an accident on Lap 1 that I was involved in, which put us in bad starting position for the final race and then we came through to eighth.”

It isn’t uncommon for drivers that race around the iconic 3.803-mile, 22-turn street circuit to find themselves one day competing in North America’s premier open-wheel championship.

Felix Rosenqvist is a former two-time winner of the event, going back-to-back in 2014 and 2015, as well two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato, who captured glory in the 2001 edition of the Macau Grand Prix.

Although it is unique to see a driver already in IndyCar return to compete in a junior category event, it speaks to the reverence Armstrong has for the challenging event, which is apparently shared by other current IndyCar drivers.

Marcus Armstrong, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Jake Galstad

Marcus Armstrong, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

“I’ve had interest and had a few offers coming into last month,” Armstrong said. “And then I had dinner with a couple of IndyCar drivers: Kyle Kirkwood, Colton Herta, Marcus Ericsson and Will Power. They were saying how awesome of an event Macau was and I thought, ‘Geez, I should probably respond to those teams extended a bit of interest.’

“That got me thinking and I decided that I wanted to do it quite badly. Luckily, the Macau Grand Prix has a good reputation in the US. My team, Chip Ganassi Racing, gave me the signoff and they were all for it. It’s obviously quite relative to IndyCar, street racing. It’s a win-win. It’s a good race to go to.”

Additionally, the 23-year-old has reunited with Paolo Angilella, who helped Armstrong finish runner-up for the 2019 F3 championship and is now the technical chief for MP Motorsport.

“He was my engineer when I was in Prema in 2019,” Armstrong said. “He was a great source of wisdom at the time when I was quite young. Since then, he’s had some great success, winning Formula 2 with Felipe Drugovich.

“So, it’s good to be with Paulo, a familiar face. I’ve worked with him many times before. He’s certainly a very strong character and knows what he wants, so it’s good to be teamed up with him.”

Considering the gap of four years since he last competed, it’s safe to say Armstrong comes in as an entirely different driver for the upcoming race on 18-19 November. Not to mention, he is with a team in MP Motorsport that is the defending race winner from its first visit to the Guia circuit in 2019.

The race has not been run for F3 cars in the past three seasons owing to the COVID-19 crisis and restrictions on international travellers to the area.

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Looking back, Armstrong can recall coming off the 2019 F3 campaign that ended with victory in the final round in Russia.

“At the time, I was, in my mind, the favorite for the race,” Armstrong said. “So, I think I put a lot of pressure on myself to win that Macau Grand Prix in 2019. It didn’t work out very well.

"This time around I also want to enjoy the weekend because that’s a big thing at Macau. It’s a fantastic track and a great vibe, so I want to enjoy the weekend. Obviously, as a racing driver, you go to a race wanting to win, but I want to enjoy it, too. I think I’m quite used to street racing at this point. I’ve done a couple of years in F2 and IndyCar.

“Obviously, in IndyCar it's quite intense, very intense when you’re racing on the streets. So, I feel like I might come back to Macau with perhaps a bit more composure than previous years.”

Motorsport.tv is showing the full 2023 Macau weekend live, including the prestigious F3 Macau Grand Prix. For more information click here.

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