Joel was forced to see a realistic shot at Macau Grand Prix victory shattered in heartbreaking circumstances when, while leading, he was taken out of Sunday’s 15-lap FIA F3 World Cup finale.
From second on the grid, Joel again made a lightning start to snatch the lead from pole-sitter Callum Ilott into Reservoir, before crucially defending his advantage on the long run to Lisboa to establish himself as the early leader.
The race was then neutralised when Marino Sato crashed out in the sweepers after Melco Hairpin, triggering a Full Course Yellow situation.
At the restart on lap three, Ilott took advantage of the slipstreaming effect to drag alongside Joel on the main straight. Joel covered the inside line as the duo stormed towards Lisboa, when Ilott suddenly steered into the left-hand side of Joel’s Motopark machine as he tried to steal the lead.
The ensuing contact derailed Joel’s front wing endplate, which then got lodged underneath the left front tyre and sent Joel careering into the barrier. It brought his race to a brutal end.
Ilott picked up a puncture, but continued following a pit stop only to retire two laps from the end. He was later hit with a ten-second time penalty, although irrelevant, for the clash.
The race featured arguably the most sensational finish in recent memory, as both Sérgio Sette Câmara and Ferdinand Habsburg crashed at the final corner of the final lap while disputing the lead – allowing third-placed Dan Ticktum through to seal a highly unlikely victory.
Ticktum’s win meant Motopark with VEB claimed FIA F3 World Cup honours despite two of the team’s other drivers, Joel and Sette Câmara, frustratingly retiring from leading positions.
“Extremely disappointing. Hard one to take. Everything went exactly according to plan until that point. I made a good start, covered off the inside to Lisboa, and grabbed the lead. The car felt better today; we ran more downforce and I’m confident that I would have been able to build a gap in the mountain if given the chance.
“This is the second time Ilott takes me out from the lead at a street track (Norisring 2016 was the first) – he probably didn’t mean to on either occasion, but still it’s frustrating to have it happen again. We had a big opportunity to win Macau today and it is tough to take, but I’m pleased with my own performance. We got pole position and were in a position where we could win the Macau Grand Prix on pace, so that is encouraging. You need a bit of luck here, simple as that, and I certainly wasn’t lucky today.”
RESULTS – 2017 Macau Grand Prix