Joel overcame a crucial hurdle in the hunt for FIA F3 World Cup glory on the streets of Macau by finishing a solid second in the important Qualification Race on Saturday morning.
After storming to the fastest time in qualifying yesterday, Joel commenced the 10-lap pre-finale from pole position, maintaining the early lead thanks to a rocket start.
He remained out in front until lap seven, when Callum Ilott – who had started the race from third but powered past the slow-starting Lando Norris off the line – made a move into the flat-out Mandarin bend to snatch the lead.
With Ilott now ahead and building a growing gap, Joel turned his attention towards simply bringing the car home on rapidly degrading tyres, covering off third-placed team-mate Sérgio Sette Câmara.
At the fall of the chequered flag, the order remained Ilott from Joel and Sette Câmara, with Maximilian Günther and Ferdinand Habsburg completing the top five.
Norris faded dramatically on the initial run to Lisboa following his poor start and could only finish seventh, behind Pedro Piquet.
The Qualification Race results determine the final grid for Sunday’s all-important 15-lap finale, which Joel is now duly set to start from the front row – an ideal position as he continues to contend for the FIA F3 World Cup title.
Next session: Main Race, 15.30 local time (GMT+08:00) on Sunday.
“A good result – I’m happy with that. I made a really good start and managed to defend my lead relatively easy into Lisboa, but then after a few laps, I felt the tyres going off badly. We started this race on the worst tyres available – we’re keeping the best ones for tomorrow – and the rears especially faded a lot. I had some oversteer moments as a result, and once Callum got past, I decided to just bring the car home in second place. We’re in pretty much an ideal position for tomorrow, so we’ll give it our best and see how it goes.”
RESULTS – Qualification Race