Joel Eriksson scored the first street-track victory of his career as he mastered difficult conditions to claim his third FIA Formula 3 European Championship win of the season at Pau this weekend.
Eriksson arrived at the French city-centre circuit holding a slight lead in the overall standings, and with two wins to his tally from the opening two rounds of the campaign at Silverstone and Monza.
The 18-year-old Team Motopark racer maintained his momentum by taking third on the grid for the first race of the weekend – and once the lights went out, Eriksson quickly grabbed the initiative.
He first dragged alongside championship rival Lando Norris (GBR) to snatch second place with a determined move around the outside at the first corner, and when pole-sitter Callum Ilott (GBR) – who’d retained the lead at the start – crashed out in spectacular fashion at the notorious Foch chicane later around the first lap, Eriksson then found himself at the head of the pack.
He duly stayed there for the remainder of the race, overcoming two safety car periods, a drizzle of rain and race-long pressure from Norris to score his first-ever win at a street circuit.
”Such a great feeling,” says Joel Eriksson. ”Victory at a street track was something I really wanted to tick off the list, and to have done it here at Pau is very special. I rate this win highly, especially because the conditions were far from easy.”
In the second race of the meeting, Eriksson looked set to score another 12 important championship points, running in a solid fourth place with just five laps left to go. However, a suspension failure ultimately caused the BMW-backed Swede to crash out of the race, temporarily losing him the championship lead.
He would reclaim it just hours later, however, as he capped off the weekend with fifth in Race 3 while Norris suffered the very same fate that had struck Eriksson earlier in the day.
The outcome in Pau sets up an ultra-dramatic situation at the top of the FIA F3 European Championship standings, with Eriksson and Norris now tied on points with 139 each. Eriksson, however, technically leads the championship thanks to three wins over Norris’ two so far in 2017. Meanwhile, Maximilian Günther (GER) – who won the final two races in Pau – is now just two points adrift on 137.
The thrilling FIA F3 European Championship battle resumes on June 16-18, when the series sets camp at the Hungaroring (Hungary) for round four of the season.
RESULTS (top five)
FIA F3 European Championship | Rd. 3
1: Joel Eriksson (SWE), 23 laps
2: Lando Norris (GBR), +0.243s
3: Maximilian Günther (GER), +2.636s
4: Nikita Mazepin (RUS), +3.560s
5: Ralf Aron (EST), +3.970s
1: Maximilian Günther (GER), 29 laps
2: Lando Norris (GBR), +1.953s
3: Callum Ilott (GBR), +5.287s
4: Harrison Newey (GBR), +11.883s
5: Ralf Aron (EST), +12.596s
DNF: Joel Eriksson (SWE)
Race 3 (“Grand Prix de Pau”)
1: Maximilian Günther (GER), 28 laps
2: Callum Ilott (GBR), +1.952s
3: Ralf Aron (EST), +3.237s
4: Harrison Newey (GBR), +6.786s
5: Joel Eriksson (SWE), +8.386s
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (top five)
After 9 of 30 races
1: Joel Eriksson (SWE), 139 p.
2: Lando Norris (GBR), 139 p.
3: Maximilian Günther (GER), 137 p.
4: Callum Ilott (GBR), 109 p.
5: Ferdinand Habsburg (AUT), 49 p.