Maxi Günther finally got his 2017 FIA European F3 Championship campaign going with victory in Race 2 at Pau.
The Prema Powerteam man kept a feisty Lando Norris at bay in the early laps, while Prema Powerteam stablemate Callum Ilott completed the podium.
Günther won out following a tense and exciting opening three laps at the French street circuit. Once again, Norris made a sluggish getaway, allowing Günther to slip down the inside on the run down through Tribunes, before the German made sure of the position into Virage de la Gare.
It did not end there however, as Norris fought hard over the next three laps, particularly on lap two, when the Briton got a good run on Günther as the leading duo made their way to Pont Oscar.
Incredibly, Norris pulled himself alongside Günther on the outside of Oscar and held that as it switched to the inside of Lycée. Despite being only centimetres apart, the pair played it hard and fair and did not touch, as Norris stayed halfway up the inside of Günther along the Allée Alfred de Musset and around the Courbe du Parc Beaumont, before Günther finally made sure of his lead.
Norris tried again on the following lap – and was clearly taking aggressive lines through Poeymirau, Virage du Buisson and the Descente – but the Carlin man could not make it count as Günther solidified his advantage.
From there Günther slammed his authority home and drew a lead of over 3.1s by lap 22, before easing off slightly in the final seven tours, eventually winning by 1.9s come the chequered flag. It was a marvelous performance by both drivers, showcasing the very best that Formula 3 has to offer on one of the toughest circuits on the calendar. Bravo.
Ilott was 3rd having fought off the intentions of Joel Eriksson for the first half of the race. Indeed while Günther and Norris were dicing, Ilott had to work hard to keep his Swedish rival at bay, as he too attempted overtakes at any place possible.
As the race aged, Ilott pulled away from Eriksson and had built more than a 1s gap by the 13th tour; however the position was solidified further when Eriksson crashed in Foch on the 23rd lap, leaving Ilott unchallenged for the remainder of the race,
Eriksson’s incident promoted Harrison Newey to 4th place – his best ever finish in European F3. The van Amersfoort racer had to work hard to keep Ralf Aron behind, with the duo less than 1s apart for the majority of the race. In the later laps, Jake Hughes closed in on the Newey / Aron fight, but was unable to break into the top five.
Nikita Mazepin (Hitech GP) continued to his showcase his progress by holding Carlin duo Ferdinand Habsburg and Jehan Daruvala off for 7th, 8th and 9th places. On his way to 9th, Daruvala committed the sole overtake in the race, as he took Jake Dennis on lap 12.
There were few other incidents. Marino Sato clumsily clattered into the back of Andres Kayvan on lap 17, after which Sato retired. Two laps later, Guan Yu Zhou pitted to retire with front-end damage, following a battle with David Beckmann over 16th and 17th places. Joey Mawson again retired, this time on lap 25 when he pitted with damage after a battle for position with Dennis.