Joel Eriksson sealed second place in the overall FIA Formula 3 European Championship standings at this weekend’s season-finale at Hockenheim, racking up his seventh win of the campaign in the process.
Eriksson arrived in Germany for the concluding round of the season hoping to build on his emphatic double win at the preceding meeting in Austria, and got things off to a promising start with second place in Friday free practice.
The Swedish Team Motopark racer continued to feature near the top of the timesheets in qualifying, taking third on the grid for the first race of the weekend – which he went on to win after making a determined move on Britain’s Callum Ilott for the lead on the opening lap.
Finishing second to Eriksson in Race 1 was Lando Norris (GBR), who simultaneously clinched the 2017 championship title.
”It’s great to score another victory, and especially to do so at the finale,” says Joel Eriksson. ”It was a tough race; I was on four used tyres and knew I had to be aggressive on the first lap, and it worked out.”
Thanks to his Race 1 victory, Eriksson overhauled German home hero Maximilian Günther for second in the standings, setting up a dramatic scrap for silver between the duo going into the remaining two races.
After finishing fourth in Race 2, Eriksson went into Sunday’s decisive final encounter in a precarious position: enjoying a 12-point lead over Günther, but starting the race from fifth on the grid – with his main rival on pole position.
In case of a Günther victory, Eriksson knew he had to finish at least third to defend his runner-up championship slot.
Günther got away well off the line, maintaining the lead, but Eriksson was equally reactive and immediately shot past Ilott for fourth.
He then made the crucial move for third on Jake Hughes (GBR) at the Spitzkehre hairpin on the second lap, and went on to take second from Günther’s Prema Powerteam colleague Guan Yu Zhou (CHN) at the Mercedes Arena on the following tour.
From there, it was a relatively straightforward affair, with Günther out in front and Eriksson a similarly comfortable second throughout the remainder of the race.
While Günther held on to victory, Eriksson’s second place was enough to hand him the same coveted position in the standings, landing the 2017 FIA F3 European Championship silver medal on Swedish soil.
“I’m really pleased to get second place – that was the target heading into this weekend,” Eriksson continues. ”The pressure was on in that final race, and when I saw Maxi (Günther) getting a good start I knew I needed to react. Once up to second, I just backed off and started to manage the tyres. It’s fantastic to end the season like this, with five podiums and three wins from the final six races.”
Eriksson’s 2017 Formula 3 achievements include seven race wins, 14 podium finishes, five pole positions and four fastest laps. The 19-year-old BMW Junior ends the campaign with 388 points to his tally, more than eight times the amount scored by his fellow Team Motopark team-mates combined.
”It’s been a good season overall, looking back at it,” Eriksson concludes. ”The goal was to win the title, but we lost out on that with some poor performances in the middle of the season and there’s nothing we can do about it now. I still think we’ve shown what we’re capable of, and second is not too bad. I really want to thank all the guys at Team Motopark for all the hard work they’ve put in this year; I’m proud of what we achieved with limited resources. Thanks!”
While the FIA F3 European Championship has now reached its end, the Formula 3 fraternity can still look ahead to arguably the absolute highlight of the season – the world-renowned Macau Grand Prix on November 16-19. Joel Eriksson will take on the famous street race for the second year running, returning with Team Motopark as he bids for victory in the FIA F3 World Cup-labelled event.
RESULTS (top five)
FIA F3 European Championship | Rd. 10
1: Joel Eriksson (SWE), 23 laps
2: Lando Norris (GBR), +0.725s
3: Ferdinand Habsburg (AUT), +3.988s
4: Callum Ilott (GBR), +9.036s
5: Jehan Daruvala (IND), +12.520s
1: Callum Ilott (GBR), 21 laps
2: Maximilian Günther (GER), +11.339s
3: Guan Yu Zhou (CHN), +14.174s
4: Joel Eriksson (SWE), +14.707s
5: Jake Hughes (GBR), +23.183s
1: Maximilian Günther (GER), 22 laps
2: Joel Eriksson (SWE), +3.585s
3: Guan Yu Zhou (CHN), +14.264s
4: Lando Norris (GBR), +14.780s
5: Callum Ilott (GBR), +16.085s
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (top five)
After 30 of 30 races
1: Lando Norris (GBR), 441 p.
2: Joel Eriksson (SWE), 388 p.
3: Maximilian Günther (GER), 383 p.
4: Callum Ilott (GBR), 344 p.
5: Jake Hughes (GBR), 207 p.