Pau F3: Eriksson beats Norris in dramatic opener

Formula 3 European Championship leader Joel Eriksson held off Lando Norris to win a dramatic opening race of the weekend on the streets of Pau

Pau F3: Eriksson beats Norris in dramatic opener

BMW junior Eriksson, from third on the grid, got a better start than front-row qualifier Norris and passed the McLaren-Honda protege for second position around the outside of the opening Gare corner.

The Swede then inherited the lead further round the opening lap when poleman Callum Ilott crashed exiting the Foch chicane. The Briton continued to the pits where he retired with deranged left-front suspension.

Norris in his Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen made gains into the early advantage of Eriksson's Motopark Dallara-VW and was with the leader as spots of rain began to fall.

Guan Yu Zhou crashed out of 10th place at the left-hander after Foch and the race went under a lengthy safety-car period extended by the long wait for recovery vehicles to materialise.

Eriksson instantly extended a lead on the restart but Norris once again closed up, before another safety car.

Joey Mawson had been looking on course for his maiden podium, despite a bump with Jake Dennis when the Brit attempted to pass him around the outside of Gare at the first restart.

But Mawson lost control in the high-speed Parc Beaumont turn and slammed into the barriers, with Dennis also crashing in his wake.

Dennis crabbed around to the Foch chicane, where he made contact with Maximilian Gunther as the Prema Powerteam driver tried to pass him, the German spinning sideways but managed to stay in third place.

The caution period left a two-lap dash to the flag, and Eriksson made no mistakes to beat Norris.

Gunther, with debris wedged under the front of his car, completed the podium.

Jake Hughes had been chasing Gunther before he slithered into the wall at Foch, and the attrition allowed his Hitech GP team-mates Nikita Mazepin and Ralf Aron to take fourth and fifth, the two very close for the majority of the race.

Harrison Newey held off an attack from Van Amersfoort Racing team-mate Pedro Piquet for sixth.

Mick Schumacher was classified eighth at the finish, but was later dropped a place behind Ferdinand Habsburg for passing the Austrian at the Lycee hairpin under yellow flag on lap 1.

Jehan Daruvala completed the points scorers.

RESULT - 23 LAPS:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Joel Eriksson Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 34m59.570s
2 Lando Norris Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 0.243s
3 Maximilian Guenther Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 2.636s
4 Nikita Mazepin Hitech GP Dallara/Mercedes 3.560s
5 Ralf Aron Hitech GP Dallara/Mercedes 3.970s
6 Harrison Newey Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Mercedes 4.564s
7 Pedro Piquet Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Mercedes 5.383s
8 Ferdinand Habsburg Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 6.637s
9 Mick Schumacher Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 5.825s
10 Jehan Daruvala Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 7.201s
11 David Beckmann Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Mercedes 8.229s
12 Keyvan Andres Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 9.071s
13 Tadasuke Makino Hitech GP Dallara/Mercedes 9.616s
14 Marino Sato Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 10.537s
- Joey Mawson Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Mercedes Retirement
- Jake Dennis Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen Retirement
- Jake Hughes Hitech GP Dallara/Mercedes Retirement
- Guanyu Zhou Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes Retirement
- Callum Ilott Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes Retirement

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