Joel battled his way to fourth in the second race at the Hockenheim season-finale, ensuring an overall top three finish in the 2017 FIA F3 European Championship is now firmly sealed as he continues to contend for silver.
Joel started the race from sixth on the grid, but completed the opening lap in fifth after picking off Pedro Piquet.
He then spent the next few laps eager to find a way past fourth-placed Jake Hughes, but the Hitech man put up a stringent defence – providing some dramatic scenes as the duo went wheel to wheel into the ultra-fast Motodrom right-hander at one point.
Joel eventually managed to outfox Hughes on lap ten, however, taking fourth place at exactly halfway through.
Once past the Briton, Joel was released into a ferocious pursuit of third-placed Guan Yu Zhou, who was running four seconds up the road at the time. He chased down the Chinese at a rapid rate, commencing the final lap just 0.7 seconds behind the Ferrari protégé, but ultimately ran out of time to stage a podium attack.
Prema Powerteam instead sealed a 1-2-3, with Callum Ilott winning from pole from Maximilian Günther and Zhou.
Recently crowned European champion Lando Norris, meanwhile, ran off the road at Spitzkehre on lap one and languished outside the points for the rest of the race, stuck behind Joel’s Team Motopark team-mate David Beckmann before finally making it through on the penultimate lap.
In the battle for second in the overall standings, Joel will carry a slightly reduced 12-point lead over Günther going into Sunday’s all-decisive finale, in which the German will start on pole with Joel in P5.
The result also means that Joel is now guaranteed at least third in the 2017 standings, with Ilott unable to catch up whatever happens tomorrow.
Next session: Race 3, 10.55 local time (GMT+02:00) on Sunday.
“One more lap… I have to give credit to Jake (Hughes) – you can really tell that he’s a good, experienced driver. He drove very well defensively, which was obviously a shame for me but nothing to complain about – fair and square. He made just one mistake in the entire race, and that’s when I managed to get by. After that, I’m sure I would have passed Guan Yu (Zhou) if only there’d been one more lap. It’s good to finish fourth from sixth, but I wanted the podium. It will be an interesting fight with Maxi (Günther) for second place tomorrow – I’m up for it!”
RESULTS – Race 2