Joel has qualified third on the grid for the opening race of the weekend at Hockenheim, while main rival for second in the championship, Maximilian Günther, struggled to 12th.
The first qualifying session of the day (the second will follow suit in a few hours) proved a highly competitive affair, as 19 out of the 21 drivers present lapped within a second of pole-setter Callum Ilott’s benchmark time.
Like in practice this morning, the top three once again comprised Ilott, championship leader Lando Norris (who qualified second) and Joel – the latter two separated by a mere 0.006 of a second.
Joel will share the second row of the Race 1 grid with Norris’ Carlin team-mate Jehan Daruvala.
Günther, meanwhile, could only manage 12th, handing Joel the early advantage as the duo continues to dispute second in the 2017 FIA F3 European Championship. The German currently leads that battle by six points going into tomorrow.
Joel headed the Team Motopark charge by a significant margin in Qualifying 1, out-pacing nearest stablemate David Beckmann by more than seven tenths. Beckmann will start Race 1 from 17th, with fellow team-mates Keyvan Andres Soori, Marino Sato and weekend newcomer Juri Vips in 19th, 20th and 21st respectively.
Next session: Qualifying 2, 17.10 local time (GMT+02:00).
“A good session, I think. It’s really close out there, which is always nice. I spent the majority of the session running behind Zhou, but then I closed in on him a little sooner than I expected and had to back off and wasted a lap. The track was peaking at that moment, so I knew I had to nail the next lap, which luckily I pretty much did. I still think we need a bit more traction, but third is not a bad place to start from and I’m relatively pleased.”
RESULTS – Qualifying 1