Joel Eriksson enjoyed a strong start to work ahead of his sophomore campaign in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship as he mixed it at the top of the timesheets in opening pre-season testing at the Hungaroring this weekend.
Eriksson, who claimed the rookie title and finished fifth in the overall F3 standings last year, is set to return to the championship for a second season in 2017 after renewing his deal with Team Motopark over the winter.
Official pre-season testing got underway at the Hungaroring on Friday and Saturday, with 19 drivers on site at the Budapest venue to commence preparations for the new campaign.
18-year-old Eriksson proved a regular feature towards the top of the times on both days of running, the Swede opening up proceedings by going fourth quickest on Friday – 0.162s shy of P1.
On Saturday, he then brought the test to a strong close with second place in the concluding afternoon session, ending up just a mere 0.005 seconds behind pace-setter Harrison Newey (GBR).
“It’s good to be back in the car again,” says Joel Eriksson. “I think we’ve had a useful test here in Budapest this weekend. We’ve tried a lot of different things on the set-up; some of them worked, some did not, so in that sense it’s been pretty normal pre-season work really. We learned quite a few things and it’s always nice to put in some good times, but it’s obviously still early days and there’s plenty of room for improvement. All in all, the feeling inside the team remains just as good as last year, and I think we’ve got a solid basis to build on next week. I’m looking forward to it.”
The Budapest test offered early indications that the 2017 campaign could potentially become an exceptionally close affair, with a full 17 drivers covered by just 0.757 seconds in the closing session on Saturday afternoon.
The FIA F3 European Championship fraternity will regroup in just a couple of days, as pre-season testing continues across the Austrian border with another two days of action at the Red Bull Ring (Tuesday-Wednesday). Following the test in Styria, racing will then get underway on April 14-16 with the opening round of the season at Silverstone, UK.