Joel Eriksson bounced back to victorious form in the penultimate FIA Formula 3 European Championship round of the season, converting a set of pole positions into an emphatic double win at Austria’s Red Bull Ring to produce his strongest performance of the year so far.
The BMW-backed Swede proved capable of overcoming a recent string of misfortunes to set the pace in the Styrian Alps, taking a close second-place finish behind Britain’s Callum Ilott in the first of the weekend’s three races before going on to sweep the final two encounters with a pair of hard-fought yet commanding wins.
Significantly, both of Eriksson’s triumphs came from pole position, after the Team Motopark youngster topped the preceding qualifying session on both fastest and second-fastest times to signal a welcome return to form in a part of the weekend that has proved difficult in recent rounds.
Eriksson defended his lead from lights to flag in both Sunday races, but only after fending off British championship leader Lando Norris in two dramatic scraps over victory – with the duo putting on a particularly electrifying show as they fought wheel to wheel in well over 220 km/h in the final race of the weekend.
The battle eventually reached its climax when Norris ran into the back of Eriksson with six laps to go in the finale, causing the Carlin man to drop back with a damaged front wing (he later retired after a separate incident on the final tour). Up front, Eriksson duly coasted home to his sixth win of the season, just hours after sealing his fifth.
With second, first and first place respectively, Eriksson was the weekend’s top scorer.
”An absolutely fantastic feeling, and I’m so thrilled to finally be back on top,” says Joel Eriksson. ”We’ve been working so hard to turn this around, and to go away from here with two pole positions, two wins and a second place just goes to show what we’re really capable of. There were some close moments with Lando, especially in the final race when he had two new tyres and I had four used, but eventually I managed to come out on top. I have to thank the team for giving me a great car this weekend – it’s been a pleasure to drive.”
19-year-old Eriksson has now claimed a total of five single-seater victories at the Red Bull Ring, with this weekend’s pair of F3 triumphs adding to previous successes in Formula 4 (two wins in 2015) and ADAC Formel Masters (2014).
Eriksson consolidates third place in the FIA F3 European Championship standings, and – while now mathematically out of the title fight – sits just six points adrift of second-placed Maximilian Günther in the scrap for silver.
The final round of the season takes place at Hockenheim (Germany) on October 13-15.
RESULTS (top five)
FIA F3 European Championship | Rd. 9
Red Bull Ring, Austria
1: Callum Ilott (GBR), 25 laps
2: Joel Eriksson (SWE), +1.828s
3: Maximilian Günther (GER), +5.141s
4: Lando Norris (GBR), +8.940s
5: Tadasuke Makino (JPN), +10.119s
1: Joel Eriksson (SWE), 25 laps
2: Lando Norris (GBR), +0.896s
3: Nikita Mazepin (RUS), +7.303s
4: Callum Ilott (GBR), +7.842s
5: Jehan Daruvala (IND), +11.634s
1: Joel Eriksson (SWE), 24 laps
2: Nikita Mazepin (RUS), +5.737s
3: Tadasuke Makino (JPN), +8.978s
4: Ferdinand Habsburg (AUT), +9.206s
5: Maximilian Günther (GER), +9.652s
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (top five)
After 27 of 30 races
1: Lando Norris (GBR), 411 p.
2: Maximilian Günther (GER), 339 p.
3: Joel Eriksson (SWE), 333 p.
4: Callum Ilott (GBR), 297 p.
5: Jake Hughes (GBR), 193 p.