Maximilian Gunther wins Grand Prix de Pau

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Maximilian Gunther (Prema Powerteam) is the winner of the ninth race of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship with the official status of the ‘Grand Prix de Pau’. The German, runner-up in last year’s FIA Formula 3 European Championship, won in bright sunshine at the 2.76 kilometres long street circuit of Pau ahead of Callum Ilott (Prema Powerteam) and Ralf Aron (Hitech Grand Prix).

McLaren junior driver Lando Norris (Carlin), who only moved up into the lead of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship drivers’ standing this morning, already lost it again to Joel Eriksson (Motopark). The Swede, tied on points with Norris, but with one more victory to his tally, took the chequered flag just behind Harrison Newey (Van Amersfoort) and thus finished fifth.

Lando Norris used his pole position and took the lead on the first few metres of the race. The rookie soon pulled clear from the rest of the field, with Maximilian Günther next up. Callum Ilott, Harrison Newey, Joel Eriksson and Ralf Aron rounded out the top six in the opening stages.

On lap eight, David Beckmann (Van Amersfoort Racing) retired after an accident, which caused the safety car to be deployed. Just after the restart, Jake Hughes (Hitech Grand Prix) and Joey Mawson (Van Amersfoort Racing) retired, which promoted Tadasuke Makino (Hitech Grand Prix) and Pedro Piquet (Van Amersfoort Racing) into the top ten.

Out in front, Lando Norris seemed to be in control, until he was unable to avoid an impact into the tyre stacks due to a broken left front wheel suspension on lap 19. Maximilian Günther inherited first place and brought it home safely. Behind Günther, his team-mate Callum Ilott was next up, Ralf Aron finished third. For the Estonian, it was his first podium finish of the season, the second for his team Hitech Grand Prix. Harrison Newey, Joel Eriksson, Ferdinand Habsburg (Carlin), Tadasuke Makino, Pedro Piquet, Jake Dennis (Carlin) and Guanyu Zhou (Prema Powerteam) rounded out the top ten in a race that included plenty of action. Japanese driver Makino, backed by Honda, scored his first FIA Formula 3 European Championship points.

Maximilian Günther (Prema Powerteam): “Victory in the Grand Prix de Pau means a lot to me. I was already second back in 2015 and now I managed to win here. That is something special indeed. The 25 points for this victory are nice, too. I am now quite closely behind the two leaders in the points’ standings, but that is not what I am thinking about at the moment. I am working from one race to another and I am doing my utmost. In this race, I particularly tried to stay away from the kerbstones, because there had been suspension damage in the two previous races already and I wanted to avoid that at all cost.”

Callum Ilott (Prema Powerteam): “My race wasn’t very exciting, there isn’t much to say, really. I also tried not to run too hard over the kerbs. I think that, apart from Maximilian, we have all made mistakes this weekend. I did so in the first race and Joel and Lando probably ran a little bit too hard over the kerbs in the other races and ruined their suspension like that.”

Ralf Aron (Hitech Grand Prix): “I am really happy to be on the podium here. As a team, this was our goal for this weekend and that is what we achieved. After our rather difficult start of the season, we worked hard to get back to the front again. This third place is also very good for our motivation. Once Joey Mawson had overtaken Nikita Mazepin in this race, I knew that I had to put pressure on as well and overtook Joel Eriksson. After the first safety car intervention, I overtook Harrison Newey on the outside of the first corner and I was third after Lando’s accident. However, I wanted more and I kept the pressure on, but then took it more easily after I had made a little mistake. Then, I safely brought third place home.”