Joel will start both of Sunday’s two FIA F3 European Championship races at Norisring from tenth place, despite lapping just a few tenths off the pace in an ultra-close second qualifying session on Saturday evening.
With just 0.548 seconds covering the entire 18-car field, Qualifying 2 demonstrated beyond doubt the competitiveness of the 2017 F3 contingent, with Joel’s best time of the session – a 48.161s – leaving him 0.302s down on ultimate pace-setter Ralf Aron and in 12th place.
That will transform into tenth at tomorrow’s Race 2 start, however, with both Callum Ilott (7th in qualifying) and Ferdinand Habsburg (11th) picking up grid-drop penalties for incidents in the opening race this morning.
On second-fastest laps, which determine the Race 3 grid, Joel wound up tenth and will start in that same position with Ilott’s and Habsburg’s penalties only applied for Race 2.
Proving just how fierce the competition was, Joel set the exact same time as Ilott on the second-quickest list, but will start behind the Briton in Race 3 having recorded his lap later in the session.
Joel, who once again headed the Team Motopark charge in both classifications, wound up just 0.236s off Race 3 pole.
Having set the fastest F3 lap ever around Norisring in a 47.859s, Aron will lead an all-Hitech front row in Race 2 with team-mate Jake Hughes second, while championship leader Maximilian Günther is on pole for Race 3.
Next session: Race 2, 09.10 local time (GMT+02:00) tomorrow.
“Not great. It’s close, but that doesn’t really help – it’s about pulling out that small edge over the others, and we didn’t manage that today. I had too much understeer and to add to that I ran into traffic on most of my laps, so it wasn’t a smooth session. Still, anything is possible from the midfield here, and I’m confident that we’ve got a strong race car. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.”
RESULTS – Qualifying 2
Outright times (grid for Race 2)
Second-fastest times (grid for Race 3)