Points’ leader Joel Eriksson wins at Pau

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Joel Eriksson (Motopark), the current FIA Formula 3 European Championship points’ leader, managed to score a race win on each of the three FIA Formula 3 European Championship race weekends held so far this season. This range of success continued at the 2.76 kilometres long street circuit of Pau.

At the foot of the Pyrenees, he finished ahead of Lando Norris (Carlin), with Maximilian Günther (Prema Powerteam) taking third place. Nikita Mazepin (Hitech Grand Prix) scored his best FIA Formula 3 European Championship result to date by finishing fourth, followed by Ralf Aron (Hitech Grand Prix) and Harrison Newey (Van Amersfoort Racing). In the FIA Formula 3 European Championship drivers’ standings, Eriksson extends his lead from Norris to eight points.

At the start, Callum Ilott (Prema Powerteam) converted his pole position into the race lead ahead of Lando Norris and Joel Eriksson. Still on the opening lap, however, the Brit retired from the lead following an accident. As Eriksson had moved past Norris just before that, the Swede inherited the lead. On lap five, Guanyu Zhou (Prema Powerteam) was the next driver to crash into the Armco barriers, which prompted the race director to deploy the safety car. During the neutralisation, Eriksson led from Norris, Joey Mawson (Van Amersfoort Racing), Jake Dennis (Carlin), Maximilian Günther and Jake Hughes (Hitech Grand Prix).

Racing resumed on lap eleven. While Eriksson’s lead was never under threat, rookie Mawson had to defend his position from a charging Jake Dennis. Six laps later, with a few drops of rain coming down, Hughes was unable to avoid a crash into the Armco barriers and retired. Just a little bit later, Mawson and Dennis did likewise in unrelated incidents. While the safety car was deployed once more, the new race order was Eriksson from Norris, Günther, Nikita Mazepin, Ralf Aron and Harrison Newey.

Two laps before the chequered flag was out, racing resumed. On the final 5.5 kilometres, there were no position changes at the front of the field. Joel Eriksson scored his maiden win on the streets of Pau. Lando Norris came second as the best-placed rookie, and crossed the finish line ahead of Maximilian Günther, Nikita Mazepin, Ralf Aron, Harrison Newey, Pedro Piquet (Van Amersfoort Racing), Mick Schumacher (Prema Powerteam), Ferdinand Habsburg (Carlin) and Jehan Daruvala (Carlin). As Schumacher had overtaken Carlin driver Habsburg under yellow, the stewards of the meeting imposed a penalty, after which he dropped one place. Therefore, he ended up ninth behind Habsburg in the final classification.

Joel Eriksson (Motopark): “I am really happy, because this win is my first on a street circuit. I had a very good start and I was able to keep Lando at bay in the battle for second. In front of me, Callum was very fast on the first few kilometres. Too fast from my point of view given the limited grip that was available. That showed as he retired after an accident. Later on, my pace was really good as well. At times, I was able to pull clear from Lando and I defended my first place until the finish.”

Lando Norris (Carlin): “The start was my best of the season so far, even though it wasn’t perfect yet. Initially, I was third and I was then second after Callum’s accident. I tried to put Joel under pressure, but he didn’t make any mistakes. Thus, I didn’t have a chance to overtake, but I am also happy with second place. According to me, the fact that drivers of the Motopark and Carlin teams are very good at the moment is mainly the result of the hard work by both teams over the winter. Perhaps, not everybody expected our current performance. As far as the engine is concerned, there is no significant difference between the Mercedes and the Volkswagen engines.”

Maximilian Günther (Prema Powerteam): “At the start, I had too much wheel spin, so I dropped back to sixth. After Callum’s crash, I was up in fifth and I was third after Joey Mawson and Jake Dennis had crashed out. I was very fortunate, because there was contact when I drove past Jake’s limping car. Fortunately, my car didn’t have any damage, so I was able to bring third place home. After my getaway, which wasn’t very good, this was still a good start into the weekend.”