This weekend will see the battle for FIA Formula 3 European Championship supremacy reach a proper drivers’ favourite, as round seven of a captivating 2017 campaign takes the field to the Dutch North Sea shores of Zandvoort. Joel Eriksson returns to the scene of his most significant single-seater success to date – winning last year’s prestigious Masters of F3 event at the venue – as he bids to strengthen his position in the fight for the European Championship title.
Eriksson arrives in the Netherlands sitting third in the F3 standings, 26 points adrift of overall leader Maximilian Günther (GER). Holding second – eight points ahead of Eriksson – is Britain’s Lando Norris, who recently completed a successful Formula 1 test with McLaren-Honda.
As the field heads to the seaside dunes of Zandvoort, Eriksson unsurprisingly hopes to repeat the kind of performance that landed him victory in the track’s standalone, non-championship Masters of F3 classic a year ago. In winning the famous race – at his first attempt, at that – the Team Motopark youngster became only the second Swede in history to take Masters of F3 honours, following in the footsteps of 2015 FIA F3 European champion Felix Rosenqvist.
“When I last crossed the finish line at Zandvoort, I did so with one of the best feelings of my life, so I’m really happy to be going back there,” says Joel Eriksson. “Winning the Masters of F3 was my biggest success so far in motorsport and the track itself is one of the nicest we go to. It’s perfectly suited to F3, with lots of fast corners where the aerodynamics of the car really glue it to the ground. There are no guarantees that we’ll be as quick there this year, but my target this weekend is to close in on the championship lead.”
While optimistic about his chances to add further wins to his 2017 tally of four, Eriksson is well aware that improvements are needed in one specific area if his high ambitions are to be achieved: qualifying.
A string of poor qualifying results have compromised Team Motopark’s efforts in recent rounds, with Eriksson forced to repeatedly claw his way back through the pack from lowly grid slots to salvage crucial championship points – not least so last time out at Spa-Francorchamps, where he twice recovered from the midfield to score two unlikely podiums.
With Zandvoort infamous for its lack of overtaking opportunities, however, Eriksson knows that any qualifying mishap this time around is likely to deal a big blow to his title ambitions.
“It will be absolutely crucial to qualify well this weekend,” Eriksson continues. “We have been struggling with that recently and can not afford to do so again – not at Zandvoort. I would like to think that we got to the bottom with that once and for all in Spa, where the team did a great job in transforming the car for the last two races, finding a much-improved set-up. Hopefully we will be able to carry that into qualifying from now on and get back to the kind of one-lap pace we had at the beginning of the season, when we were always fighting for pole.”
The FIA F3 European Championship will line up on the DTM support bill this weekend, with Joel Eriksson again set to carry out taxi ride duties for career-backers BMW alongside his F3 racing commitments.
Formula 3 action at Zandvoort gets underway on Friday.
FIA F3 European Championship | Rd. 7
Zandvoort, the Netherlands
All times local – GMT+02:00
Free Practice 1: 12.30-13.10
Free Practice 2: 13.15-13.55
Qualifying 1: 17.50-18.10
Race 1: 10.45-11.20
Qualifying 2: 16.15-16.35
Race 2: 11.05-11.40
Race 3: 16.55-17.30
TV / live stream
FIA F3 European Championship races are broadcast throughout a wide network of TV stations. Click here to find out where to watch in your part of the world. All races are also transmitted LIVE at www.fiaf3europe.com/live and in-house at www.joelerikssonracing.com, with Eurosport airing a highlights package in the days following each round.
Live timing for each session of the 2017 FIA F3 European Championship is available at www.fiaf3europe.com/live.
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (top five)
After 18 of 30 races
1: Maximilian Günther (GER), 266 p.
2: Lando Norris (GBR), 248 p.
3: Joel Eriksson (SWE), 240 p.
4: Callum Ilott (GBR), 186 p.
5: Jehan Daruvala (IND), 138 p.
ABOUT THE CIRCUIT
Zandvoort, the Netherlands
Lap length: 4.307 km
Zandvoort FIA F3 EC data
Lap record: 1m30.170s (L.Stroll, 2016)
Latest event: 2016
Most recent winners (2016):