Joel made progress to rise from sixth on the grid to fourth by the chequered flag in the first race of the weekend at Monza, coming home behind a trio of Carlin cars as the British team locked out the podium.
Joel initially kept his position off the line as the race got underway, staying sixth in the opening phase of the race before gradually picking off his rivals with consecutive moves on Callum Ilott, Jake Dennis and Ferdinand Habsburg to briefly run as high as third.
By that time, Carlin duo Lando Norris and Jehan Daruvala had been able to break free to create a five-second lead while the pack jostled for positions behind, leaving Joel and Habsburg to dispute the final podium position with the rest of the field unable to keep up.
Joel looked capable of trashing the Carlin podium lock-out party, but a small mistake at the Della Roggia chicane enabled Habsburg to slip past a few laps from the end.
Joel duly came home fourth, as the leading non-Carlin runner.
Worth noting is the fact that all four Carlin drivers (Norris, Daruvala, Habsburg and Dennis) ran new tyres in this race, while Joel and Team Motopark instead opted to save their allocation for tomorrow’s double-header.
FIA F3 European Championship rules state that each driver has a total of three sets of slick tyres at his disposal throughout both qualifying sessions and the weekend’s three races.
Next session: Qualifying 2, 16.45 local time (GMT+02:00).
“This was a very tough race – one of the toughest I’ve had. The balance of the car was not ideal and I was forced to brake a lot earlier than I wanted into the corners. However, I think a big reason for that was the fact we ran old tyres. I managed to get up to third place but lost it again after making a mistake at the second chicane as I couldn’t get the car to stop. That’s really frustrating and I will learn from it. Carlin were obviously the ones to beat today, but we now have slightly better tyres for tomorrow. With a strong qualifying performance this afternoon, we could be in a really good position.”
RESULTS – Race 1
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TV / live stream
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Live timing for each session of the 2017 FIA F3 European Championship is available at www.fiaf3europe.com/live.
WHERE IT HAPPENS
Autodromo Nazionale Monza
Lap length: 5.793 km
Monza FIA F3 EC data
Lap record: 1m44.082s (C.Leclerc, ’15)
Latest event: 2015
Most recent winners (2015):