Joel Eriksson took his third win of the FIA European Formula 3 Championship season at Pau this morning.
The Motopark racer pipped Carlin’s Lando Norris to the flag by just two-tenths of-a-second. Maxi Günther filled out the podium for Prema Powerteam.
From the second row, the super-fast Swede jumped Norris and briefly trailed initial leader and polesitter Callum Ilott. However Ilott lost control of his Prema Powerteam machine on the exit of Pont Oscar and pitched the left-front of his Mercedes-powered entry into the barrier, gifting Eriksson the lead.
Thereafter Eriksson drew a lead of just over 1s, when a charging Norris began to reel the Motopark man in. Just as Norris closed to with four-tenths, a full-course yellow was called when Guan Yu Zhou crashed out on lap six.
Moving Zhou’s stricken car proved more difficult than originally though and the safety car was eventually called, neutralizing the race until the eleventh tour.
Once again Eriksson made a quick getaway to build a lead to over 1.0s, but again Norris closed in to around half-a-second, when a second safety car was called.
At first, the Hitech GP racer of Jake Hughes crashed out at the exit of the Foch Chicane, but when it looked like that might be handled by the marshals, 3rd and 4th place runners Joey Mawson and Jake Dennis ran wide through the Descente and hit the barrier in independent incidents.
The safety car stayed out for just three laps and upon the restart, Eriksson gained four-tenths over Norris to ease into a comfortable lead on the final lap. It was almost too comfortable for Eriksson, as he slowed to take the chequered flag, Norris closed to within two-tenths, creating something of a scare for the winner.
Following the Mawson/Dennis exits, Günther took the final podium spot. The German had started 4th, but fell behind the quick starting Dennis into the first few corners. Günther came close to regaining 4th on the lap 11 restart, when Dennis attempted to go around the outside of Mawson into the Virage de la Gare – the pair touched slightly, causing Dennis to slow and Günther to close right in; however the Prema racer could not complete the pass.
Nikita Mazepin took an excellent 4th, having started 9th. The Force India junior took two places at the start and gained three more when Dennis, Mawson and Hughes ruled themselves out. Often criticised, Mazepin made few mistakes and kept a solid pace to keep close to Günther through the race.
Ralf Aron secured 5th in his Hitech. He took enjoyed a good start, jumping Zhou, Pedro Piquet and the crashed Ilott. Thereafter the Estonian benefitted from later retirements to take his first top-five finish of the year.
Harry Newey was the highest van Amersfoort runner in 6th spot, following teammate Mawson’s crash. Newey headed home teammate Piquet (7th) and the battling Mick Schumacher (8th, Prema Powerteam) and Ferdinand Habsburg (9th, Carlin), although both Schumacher and Habsburg are currently under investigation for overtaking each other under yellow flags at the beginning of the race.
Jehan Daruvala took the final points score in 10th, although he is under investigation for overtaking under safety car conditions just as the Mawson/Dennis incident was called.