Joel took the chequered flag in ninth to salvage a couple of points in the first FIA F3 European Championship race of the weekend at Spa-Francorchamps.
There was drama on the opening lap when Callum Ilott challenged Lando Norris for the lead going into Les Combes, only to run wide across the run-off area as he opted for the outside line around the initial right-hander. As he rejoined the track, Ilott was launched over the edge of a kerb, spearing into the rear of Jake Hughes and taking the latter out of the race with broken suspension.
That triggered an early safety car period, with Joel remaining in his original position of 12th place.
At the restart, Joel pulled off a bold double move on Guan Yu Zhou and Ferdinand Habsburg to haul himself into tenth, which became ninth just moments later as Ilott picked up a drive-through penalty for the lap one skirmish.
Making further progress a few laps later, Joel then drafted past Ralf Aron on the Kemmel straight for eighth.
He would eventually drop back down to ninth, however, with Habsburg’s Carlin machine managing to power back ahead on the penultimate tour.
Up front, Norris converted pole into victory, with Nikita Mazepin second and championship leader Maximilian Günther in third.
Joel’s ninth-place finish means he now holds third in the FIA F3 European Championship standings, behind Günther and Norris.
Next session: Race 2, 15.40 local time (GMT+02:00).
“I made a good start and was able to make up some places in slipstreaming battles, but overall we’re still lacking the final pace. The car was a little bit improved over qualifying, where we had balance issues, and we’re heading in the right direction slowly but surely. At least we got a few points out of this one, but I was hoping for more.”
RESULTS – Race 1