“FIA F3: Eriksson finally claims maiden win”
Swedish racer Joel Eriksson finally claimed his maiden FIA European F3 victory at Spa-Francorchamps today.
In a dominant display, Eriksson headed Anthoine Hubert (van Amersfoort) for the duration, while George Russell (Hitech GP) outfought Prema Powerteam’s Lance Stroll to the final podium place.
Eriksson immediately launched into the lead when poleman Russell bogged down, dropping momentarily to 13th place. Thereafter Eriksson maintained a narrow but decisive lead of Hubert, with a mature and confident performance that earned Motopark their first win of the season.
Initially Ben Barnicoat (Hitech) and Callum Ilott (van Amersfoort) ran in 2nd and 3rd positions, but both disappeared at the end of the opening lap – Barnicoat with a puncture and Ilott following a spin.
Their misfortune promoted Hubert, Nikita Mazepin (Hitech) and Stroll; however Stroll was quick dispose of Mazepin as he began his chase for the front.
After riding high early on, Mazepin continued to fall down the order, as Cassidy, Russell, Günther and Niko Kari all pushed past. Behind the top group, the recovering Russell disposed of the main gaggle of cars on the opening lap.
Once by the Russian, Cassidy and Russell battled it out for 4th, with the Hitech man nailing the position on lap 8. It would not take long for Russell to catch Stroll, but the Briton had a tougher time with the Canadian.
Eventually getting close to Stroll on lap 14, Russell passed Stroll in the Bus Stop, only for Stroll to re-pass his rival just before Eau Rouge a few corners later. Stroll then clung to the rear of Stroll and danced around the outside of the Prema man at Les Combes to claim 3rd,
The duo did it all over again a lap later following a brief error by Russell that allowed Stroll to retake the advantage; however when Russell took the Canadian around the outside of Les Combes for the second time, there were no mistakes and the battle for 3rd was done.
Stroll eventually took 4th ahead of Cassidy, Günther, Kari, while Mazepin ended the day in 8th, although he still enjoyed enough of an advantage of Mücke duo Mikkel Jensen (9th) and David Beckmann (10th) to maintain his top-eight finish.