12 months ago, Joel Eriksson experienced one of the most heartbreaking moments of his career to date when he was sent into retirement by a fellow rival while in the lead and on course for his first-ever Formula 3 victory. The scene of that painful memory was Germany’s Norisring street track, to where the FIA F3 European Championship returns this weekend for round five of the 2017 campaign – and as the current overall leader, Eriksson is determined to put his record straight at the Nuremberg venue.
“Norisring is a case of unfinished business for me,” says Joel Eriksson. “I haven’t forgotten what happened there last year, and I really want to replace that memory with something nicer this weekend. That’s the plan.”
Having finished as runner-up in the German ADAC Formula 4 championship in 2015, Eriksson advanced to the FIA F3 European Championship in 2016, immediately emerging as one of the frontrunners by scoring a podium at the opening round at France’s Circuit Paul Ricard.
While several further podium finishes followed in subsequent races, the Swede’s real breakthrough looked set to come at June’s Norisring round, where a maiden F3 win appeared to be firmly on the cards.
Eriksson had started from the front row in the first race of the weekend, and snatched first place with a committed move around the outside of eventual champion Lance Stroll (who would later go on to race in Formula 1 this season, scoring a career-first podium at the recent Azerbaijan Grand Prix).
Eriksson maintained his lead, with Stroll in second, until disaster struck at the halfway stages; third-placed Callum Ilott lost control of his car under braking for the tight Grundig hairpin, careering past Stroll and smashing into Eriksson’s Team Motopark Dallara – which was eliminated with broken suspension.
To add pain to injury, Eriksson was later hit by another rival in the final race of the meeting, retiring once again to cap off a weekend which was very much a case of what could have been.
“The events of Norisring last year were something I could have lived without, but you can’t change history and I actually grew a lot with that experience,” Eriksson continues. “It taught me how to deal with setbacks, and to enjoy the good times even more. I don’t feel like it’s a jinxed track or anything like that. I’m actually looking forward to going back there this weekend, because we had great pace last season and I think we’ll be strong there again this year.”
Eriksson ultimately went on to claim that first F3 win just a few weeks on from the Norisring frustrations, triumphing at Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps, and has remained a pace-setting force in the category ever since.
His second season of FIA F3 European Championship competition has got off to a strong start, with victories at all of the opening four rounds placing him on top of the overall standings by five points from Maximilian Günther going into this weekend’s activities in Nuremberg.
Ilott is third, a further 16 points adrift.
“This weekend marks half time in the championship, so there are still a lot of races left,” BMW junior Eriksson concludes. “It would be nice to extend my lead a little, but you never know at Norisring. It’s a pretty simple layout and the shortest lap of the year, which means qualifying in particular is always extremely tight. You need to put the lap together and have those fractions of a second on your side. It’s also a place which could see plenty of safety cars, so there are many hurdles to overcome. I’ll give it everything I’ve got and hopefully we can leave with a smile on Sunday.”
With four race wins to his name so far this season, Joel Eriksson is the most victorious FIA F3 European Championship driver to date in 2017. Günther and Ilott both have three wins each.
FIA F3 European Championship | Rd. 5
All times local – GMT+02:00
Free Practice 1: 12.00-12.40
Free Practice 2: 12.45-13.25
Qualifying 1: 17.50-18.10
Race 1: 10.25-11.00
Qualifying 2: 17.20-17.40
Race 2: 09.10-09.45
Race 3: 14.50-15.25
TV / live stream
FIA F3 European Championship races are broadcast throughout a wide network of TV stations. Click here to find out where to watch in your part of the world. All races are also transmitted LIVE at www.fiaf3europe.com/live and in-house at www.joelerikssonracing.com, with Eurosport airing a highlights package in the days following each round.
Live timing for each session of the 2017 FIA F3 European Championship is available at www.fiaf3europe.com/live.
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (top five)
After 12 of 30 races
1: Joel Eriksson (SWE), 183 p.
2: Maximilian Günther (GER), 178 p.
3: Callum Ilott (GBR), 162 p.
4: Lando Norris (GBR), 158 p.
5: Guan Yu Zhou (CHN), 65 p.
ABOUT THE CIRCUIT
Lap length: 2.300 km
Norisring FIA F3 EC data
Lap record: 48.168s (M.Verstappen, 2014)
Latest event: 2016
Most recent winners (2016):