Joel did what could be realistically expected from his lowly grid slot to salvage the final point on offer in Saturday’s opening FIA F3 European Championship race in Budapest, taking tenth place.
From 17th on the grid – surrounded by his Team Motopark colleagues at the back of the pack following yesterday’s qualifying struggles in the wet – Joel quickly set about making progress as the lights went out on a dry-ish track, hauling himself to 12th early on.
That became 11th when team-mate Marino Sato was handed a drive-through penalty, and tenth once Joel had cleared another fellow Motopark runner in David Beckmann (who has moved across from Van Amersfoort Racing this weekend).
Once past Beckmann, Joel swiftly closed down a three-second gap to Mick Schumacher in ninth – but despite frolic overtaking attacks which included an attempted around-the-outside move at Turn 1, Joel remained behind the German across the finishing line. In doing so, he crucially sealed the final point at hand.
Up front, Maximilian Günther won from pole position to snatch the championship lead.
Lando Norris, meanwhile – who went into the race sharing the overall advantage with Joel – could only manage eighth place, providing some consolation for Joel in the title race.
Günther now heads the standings on 162 points, with Norris second on 143 and Joel third on 140.
There was one safety car intervention in the race, triggered when Ralf Aron collected the back of Pedro Piquet on the opening lap. Other than that, the race ran largely incident-free.
Next session: Qualifying 2, 16.15 local time (GMT+02:00) this afternoon.
“A decent race, where there was ever only so much I could do. I think we can be relatively pleased to finish in the points from 17th on the grid, especially here in Hungary where overtaking is really hard. I got stuck a little too long behind my team-mates, but once I got past them, we could see in clear air that the pace was there. I tried my best to overtake Schumacher in the end, but it didn’t happen and we have to accept tenth place. Let’s now put this behind and focus on second qualifying this afternoon; that will be crucial to try and recover this weekend.”
RESULTS – Race 1