Felipe Nasr took a stunning second place for Carlin in today’s Qualification race ahead of the 58th Macau Grand Prix, despite race long pressure from third placed man Roberto Merhi. Carlos Huertas made it two Carlin cars in the top five, while Jazeman Jaafar finished 17th, with Kevin Magnussen 19th from the back row of the grid.

Following rain earlier on in the week, conditions remained dry for the start of today’s Qualification Race, for the ten lap sprint around the challenging Macau circuit. Nasr made the perfect start from fifth on the grid and benefitted from the stalled car of front row man Antonio Felix da Costa to catapult into second place. Huertas also made a good start and briefly climbed to fourth, before settling for fifth at the end of lap one.

Jaafar lost out in the chaotic mid field at the start and dropped to 24th, while Magnussen had already made up several places in 22nd having started 29th.

At the front Nasr was chasing down race leader Marco Wittmann, but had the charging Roberto Merhi right behind him by the end of lap two. Nasr held station though and coped well with the pressure to keep the F3 Euro Series champion behind him.

Huertas was also enjoying some close racing and had closed in on GP3 champion Valtteri Bottas for fourth, and by lap five was close enough to put the Finn under intense pressure. Nasr meanwhile had responded well to the pace from behind and set the fastest lap of the race so far on lap five.

Facing a completely different battle was Magnussen, who had demonstrated pace good enough to qualify seventh, but was fighting his way through the field following a grid penalty. The British F3 vice champion was 20th, just ahead of Jaafar in 21st.

After managing to pull out a small gap, Nasr was under pressure again from Merhi, who set the fastest lap of the race on lap eight, while behind them the pack continued to shuffle with Jaafar moving up to 18th ahead of Magnussen in 19th.

Attention remained firmly focused on the leaders though, as the British and F3 Euro champions Nasr and Merhi fought closely for second. Merhi made a move up the inside at Lisboa on lap eight, but Nasr defended well and maintained position.

A big accident for Jimmy Eriksson brought racing action to a halt on lap nine. The driver climbed from the car unhurt but the incident brought out the safety car. With debris strewn across the track, the race finished under those conditions, with Nasr taking second in his Volkswagen powered car, with Huertas fifth. Jaafar crossed the line in 17th, with Magnussen 19th, the positions the Carlin quartet will take on the grid for tomorrow’s race.

Reflecting on a tense afternoon, Nasr said, “From the start I got two places straight away, after Sims crashed and da Costa stalled. I was third into the first corner and managed to get a good tow from Bottas and we were three wide into Lisboa. I was in the middle so I didn’t have the right line to come out first and I was cautious not to make contact. I managed to come out in second though and then I just focused on keeping the car out of the walls so we could have a good position for tomorrow.

“Both Wittmann and Merhi were very quick; Wittmann had a strong car in the middle sector, but I was fast in the final sector and was able to close on him there and pull away from Merhi a little. I think we need to look at the data to see how we can improve further so we are even strong tomorrow, but second place is a great position to start from in Macau.”

Fifth placed man Huertas was also pleased with his race, “I was distracted at the start by da Costa stalling, which is how Merhi got past me, but my pace was really good, especially in the early stages. I nearly got past Bottas, but I didn’t want to do anything stupid. I think the pace between the front runners was very close today. We improved the car a lot from qualifying and we will try and do the same before tomorrow. Anything can happen around here and I’m in a good position to take a top result tomorrow.”

Trevor Carlin added, “Felipe did a fantastic job today. He made a great start; striking the balance between being aggressive and not risking too much. He withstood the pressure from Merhi extremely well and deserved to be on the podium today. To have two cars in the top five today is a great result for the team, following an impressive race by Carlos. It was a difficult task for Jazeman and Kevin today, but they both brought the cars home in one piece. Obviously tomorrow the drivers will have a completely different approach, and I’m sure we’ll see considerably less caution and more incidents! Nevertheless Felipe and Carlos have shown that we have a good car here, so we’re feeling confident.”

Tomorrow’s race will take place at 15.30 local time (07.30 GMT).