Joel sealed his tenth podium of the season as he returned to the FIA F3 European Championship rostrum in the opening race of the weekend in Austria, splitting Prema Powerteam pair Callum Ilott and Maximilian Günther to finish in second place.
From third on the grid, Joel got the best start of the leading group contingent to immediately power past front-row man Günther into Turn 1, before tucking in underneath the gearbox of pole-sitter Ilott on the steep climb to the Remus hairpin.
Using the slipstream to drag alongside the Englishman, Joel challenged for the lead with an attempted around-the-outside move at the tight right-hander, but ran wide on the exit as Ilott reclaimed a lead he only momentarily lost.
From there, the remainder of the race proved rather uneventful, with Ilott and Joel opening up a gap over the pursuing Günther – who in turn lapped consistently quicker than Tadasuke Makino and Lando Norris a few seconds further back.
At the fall of the chequered flag, Joel finished 1.8 seconds in arrears of Ilott, with Günther completing the podium another 3.3s adrift.
This is Joel’s first podium in six races. While he edged three points closer to Günther in the battle for second in the standings, Ilott’s victory means Joel has now dropped to fourth in the standings behind the Briton, although only by two points.
Next session: Qualifying 2, 16.15 local time (GMT+02:00) this afternoon.
“It’s great to be back on the podium. It’s been a little while, so this was an important boost for everyone in the team. I got a good start and overtook Maximilian into Turn 1, and then I attacked Callum in Turn 2. I tried to brake later than him and go around the outside, but it didn’t quite work and he could retake the lead on the exit. After that, it was just about controlling second place, because Callum was a little bit too fast. I think the two of us were the quickest guys out there today, which is promising heading into Qualifying 2 this afternoon.”
RESULTS – Race 1