Thanks to winning performances at Silverstone and Monza, Joel Eriksson currently sits on top of the FIA F3 European Championship standings. As the field heads to the French town of Pau this weekend for the first street event of the year, the Swedish Team Motopark racer unsurprisingly bids to defend his championship lead – but is well aware of the tough battle on hand if he is to do so.
One point; that’s what Eriksson’s slender advantage over nearest championship rival Lando Norris (GBR) currently amounts to. A further 27 points adrift sits third-placed Callum Ilott (GBR), with the leading trio having shared the first six races equally among them with two wins each.
Pau was the venue of Eriksson’s first-ever street race 12 months ago, and the BMW-supported youngster returns to the picturesque venue at the foot of the Pyrenees this weekend with fond memories of the 2016 dash between the barriers.
“I’m looking forward to returning to Pau this weekend,” says Joel Eriksson. “It’s a very difficult track – narrow and unforgiving – and I learned a lot there last year. There really is no room for error and I especially remember some corners having quite a lot of banking. You need to use that to your advantage and position the car exactly right, which is not easy to do. It’s a big challenge, but great fun!”
Eriksson came away from Pau with a best result of sixth last season, claiming rookie honours in Sunday’s concluding Race 3 – which formally holds the prestigious “Grand Prix de Pau” title.
Later in the year, he then added to his street circuit experience with a debut appearance in the FIA F3 World Cup Macau Grand Prix in China; like Pau known for its treacherous and ultra-demanding nature.
“A lot happens in a year, and I’m a much-improved driver in every area compared to this time last season,” Eriksson continues. “I’m sure that I will be quicker in Pau this time around through natural progression, but I don’t know how I’ll stack up against the others. I haven’t scored any top results on street tracks yet – both Pau and Macau were new to me last year – so I still have to prove that I’m capable of that. Leading the championship, I need to aim for victory, but I’m well aware that it won’t be easy.”
The tight confines of Pau means overtaking is virtually impossible, injecting added importance into qualifying. To combat the risk of accidents and the potential impact of traffic in the two grid-deciding sessions, a unique qualifying structure will be in place in France this weekend, with the field split in half.
For more on the Pau qualifying format, please see https://www.joelerikssonracing.com/grand-prix-de-pau-qualifying-groups-revealed/.
FIA F3 European Championship | Rd. 3
All times local – GMT+02:00
Free Practice 1: 10.15-10.55
Free Practice 2: 11.00-11.40
Qualifying 1: 15.25-16.10
Race 1: 11.10-11.45
Qualifying 2: 15.35-16.15
Race 2: 10.40-11.15
Race 3: 16.00-16.35
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 6 of 30 races
1: Joel Eriksson (SWE), 104 p.
2: Lando Norris (GBR), 103 p.
3: Callum Ilott (GBR), 76 p.
4: Maximilian Günther (GER), 72 p.
5: Mick Schumacher (GER), 43 p.
ABOUT THE CIRCUIT
Lap length: 2.760 km
Pau FIA F3 EC data
Lap record: 1m10.629s (J.Dennis, ’15)
Latest event: 2016
Most recent winners (2016):