Joel claimed his first-ever victory on a street track as he held off the advances of main championship rival Lando Norris to win the opening race of the weekend at Pau.
Starting from third on the grid, Joel dragged alongside front-row starter Norris into the first corner and snatched second place with a determined move around the outside of the British Carlin racer.
When pole-sitter Callum Ilott – who’d retained the lead at the start – crashed out in spectacular fashion at Foch later around the first lap, Joel then found himself at the head of the pack.
He stayed there for the remainder, overcoming two safety car periods and race-long pressure from Norris to score his third win of the season.
Behind Norris, Maximilian Günther completed the podium in third place, despite being tagged by Jake Dennis and nearly falling victim to the intimidating barriers.
The victory sees Joel extend his championship lead from one point to eight.
Next session: Qualifying 2, 15.35 local time (GMT+02:00).
“Such a great feeling – my first win on a street track! I’m thrilled to tick that off the box. I made a good start and managed to overtake Lando, and then on the first lap I could actually see how hard Callum was pushing. Eventually he made a mistake and I got into the lead, and then it was all about defending it. I felt largely under control, but the second restart wasn’t great, so I’m glad I got away with that. Now, we have to refocus for second qualifying.”