First season win for Maximilian Gunther

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Maximilian Günther (Prema Powerteam) had to wait until the eighth race of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship season before being able to celebrate his first win of the year. At the 2.76 kilometres long street circuit of Pau in the south of France, the German had the upper hand over Lando Norris (Carlin).

Callum Ilott (Prema Powerteam) crossed the finish line in third place ahead of Harrison Newey (Van Amersfoort Racing), Ralf Aron (Hitech Grand Prix) and Jake Hughes (Hitech Grand Prix). Joel Eriksson (Motopark), who started the race as the FIA Formula 3 European Championship points’ leader, retired early after an accident. That allowed rookie driver Norris to get past the Swede into the lead of the drivers’ standings.

Maximilian Günther won the dash into the first corner against Lando Norris, who had started from pole position. The British McLaren junior driver, however, wanted more and started several attempts to overtake his rival on the first few laps. Stalwart Günther remained unfazed and defended his lead. After some laps, the Prema driver was able to extend his margin so that his lead was no longer under threat. Eventually, Günther drove home an undisputed victory at the foot of the Pyrenees ahead of Lando Norris as the top rookie.

Behind Günther and Norris, Callum Ilott and Joel Eriksson initially followed in third and fourth place. The Swede, who won the FIA Formula 3 European Championship rookie title last year, put the Brit under pressure in the opening stages, but Ilott then was able to pull clear to eventually bring third place home. Eriksson, in turn, retired after a crash on lap 24 and thus allowed Harrison Newey to move up into fourth place. In a race with only little overtaking, Ralf Aron, Jake Hughes, Nikita Mazepin (Hitech Grand Prix), Ferdinand Habsburg (Carlin), Jehan Daruvala (Carlin) and Jake Dennis (Carlin) finished in fifth to tenth place.

Maximilian Günther (Prema Powerteam): “My start was very good. Then, I was involved in a battle for the lead with Lando. After a few laps, though, I was able to find my rhythm and pull a gap. Then, it was all about avoiding any mistakes and bringing first place home. I am really happy with my first win of the season. At Silverstone and Monza, things weren’t going perfectly yet and in a championship that is so close as this one, that leaves you without a chance to challenge for victories. Therefore, being on the top step here is all the more beautiful.”

Lando Norris (Carlin): “Maximilian’s start was very good, whereas mine, once again, wasn’t the best. On the first few laps, I was faster than him, but Maximilian was better from the halfway point onwards. Thus, I didn’t have a chance to overtake anymore, especially as a very tight track like Pau only allows you to do so when the driver in front makes a mistake. I hadn’t noticed that Joel Eriksson retired. My team told me on the radio, but at the moment, I am not looking at the drivers’ standings anyway. There are still many races to go and a lot of things can still happen. My focus is much more on winning the next race.”

Callum Ilott (Prema Powerteam): “At the start of the race, I had a first-hand view of the duel between Maximilian and Lando. I didn’t want to take too many risks, because I was determined to make it to the finish and score points. When Joel Eriksson behind me retired, I was able to take it easier and then bring third place home safely.”