Joel burst back into form in FIA F3 European Championship qualifying by taking a convincing third on the grid for tomorrow’s opening race at the Red Bull Ring.
Having gone a promising third quickest in the preceding free practice session, Joel carried that momentum into the first qualifying showdown of the weekend on Friday evening, joining a frenetic scrap over pole position.
Leading the way in the early stages of the 20-minute session, Joel fired a serious warning shot at his rivals but was eventually demoted to third as Prema Powerteam duo Callum Ilott and Maximilian Günther came to the fore.
While Ilott claimed pole by 0.016s from team-mate Günther, Joel proved best of the rest as he edged out championship leader Lando Norris and Honda-backed Tadasuke Makino.
Joel’s best lap left him 0.195s down on Ilott’s ultimate benchmark, enough to hand him his best grid slot since last month’s Zandvoort round when he qualified third for that weekend’s opening heat.
Highlighting the fierce competitiveness of the 2017 F3 field, a full 15 cars were covered by less than half a second around the 4.326 km lap, setting up what is likely to be a wide-open affair as the lights go out in Race 1 tomorrow morning.
Next session: Race 1, 10.40 local time (GMT+02:00) on Saturday.
“This was as much of a relief as it was fun! This track is great when it comes to pushing a car to its limit, and I think the lap I did today was right on it. I think we ran a little too much downforce and that’s probably what cost us pole, but it’s still nice to be back in contention. The car is feeling a lot more like it did at the beginning of the year and I can’t wait for the first race tomorrow.”
RESULTS – Qualifying 1 (grid for Race 1)