One year ago almost to the day, Joel Eriksson claimed a career-first Formula 3 victory to establish himself as a race winner in one of motorsport’s most important junior categories. The site of that defining moment was as iconic as the series itself: Belgium’s Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Nestled in the vast Ardennes forest, the legendary Grand Prix track returns to the limelight this week as Eriksson and his rivals commence the second half of a thrilling 2017 FIA F3 European Championship season.
Spa marked Eriksson’s most successful meeting during his rookie F3 campaign last year. Along with the emotional maiden win, sealed in the third and final race of the weekend, the young BMW-backed Swede also came away with additional silverware courtesy of a second-place finish in the preceding Race 2. Coupled with previous victorious outings at the track in Formula 4, it’s little surprise to find Eriksson booming with anticipation as 2017 action resumes following a four-week break.
“I can’t wait to get back to Spa this week,” says Joel Eriksson. “It’s been a long break and I’m really eager to go racing again. I really love the track; it has everything. Blind crests, some of the fastest corners of the season, a great flow – it’s a real challenge. It also promotes close and tough racing thanks to its long straights, and that’s something I will always enjoy. I’ve always been quick at Spa and it turned out to be my best weekend last year, so I’m really happy to be back there.”
Having enjoyed a strong start to his second season in the FIA F3 European Championship, Eriksson arrives in Belgium holding second place in the overall standings. Victories at Silverstone, Monza, the streets of Pau and in Budapest have laid the foundations for a serious title attack, in which Eriksson currently trails leader Maximilian Günther (GER) by just 34 points with 15 out of 30 races completed.
Far from a two-horse race, however, Eriksson in turn heads into the second half of the season under pressure from Britons Lando Norris and Callum Ilott.
“I’m relaxed as far as the championship is concerned,” Eriksson concludes. “We still have half the season to go and everything, really, can happen. There are lots of points still up for grabs. We didn’t have a very strong weekend at the Norisring before the break, but that is a very particular track and I know that our car normally performs a lot better. I’m feeling really confident going into the final half of the year – there are five tracks coming up that are usually among my absolute strongest.”
Following this week’s gathering at Spa-Francorchamps, the final rounds of the FIA F3 European Championship battle will take the field to Zandvoort (NED), Nürburgring (GER), Red Bull Ring (AUT) and Hockenheim (GER).
Formula 3 action in Belgium kicks off with a day of official pre-event testing on Tuesday. With the series forming part of the support package for the 24 Hours of Spa GT3 race – in which Joel Eriksson’s brother Jimmy Eriksson will partake – there will be a revised time table in place this weekend with practice and qualifying run on Thursday and the three races panning out across Friday and Saturday.
FIA F3 European Championship | Rd. 6
All times local – GMT+02:00
Free Practice 1: 09.00-09.40
Free Practice 2: 09.45-10.25
Qualifying 1: 13.30-13.50
Qualifying 2: 17.10-17.30
Race 1: 12.15-12.50
Race 2: 15.40-16.15
Race 3: 12.40-13.15
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 15 of 30 races
1: Maximilian Günther (GER), 236 p.
2: Joel Eriksson (SWE), 202 p.
3: Lando Norris (GBR), 198 p.
4: Callum Ilott (GBR), 166 p.
5: Jehan Daruvala (IND), 106 p.
ABOUT THE CIRCUIT
Lap length: 7.004 km
Spa FIA F3 EC data
Lap record: 2m11.111s (M.Verstappen, 2014)
Latest event: 2016
Most recent winners (2016):