Spa European F3: BMW junior Eriksson breaks through for maiden win

BMW junior Joel Eriksson finally broke his Formula 3 European Championship duck by winning the final race of the series' Spa weekend

Spa European F3: BMW junior Eriksson breaks through for maiden win

When poleman George Russell suddenly stalled after a good initial launch, outside-front-row man Eriksson was able to lead the field into La Source.

Crucially, the Swede was able to hold his advantage after the long drag to Les Combes and, with chaos in his mirrors, Eriksson emerged from the opening lap with a lead of 1.793 seconds over Anthoine Hubert.

The gap remained at around 1.5s throughout the race, the Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara-Mercedes of Hubert never able to make sufficient inroads on the Motopark Dallara-Volkswagen of Eriksson.

"I saw George was messing up the start so I saw the opportunity to win the race, because the pace from Hitech GP [Russell's team] yesterday was incredible," said Eriksson.

"I managed to keep the lead at Les Combes and pulled the gap and kept it, and managed the tyres, which is important at this track."

The other story of the race was the starring role of Russell.

The Briton had dropped into the midfield by the first corner, but on the eighth lap he squeezed past the Prema Powerteam machine of Nick Cassidy for fourth on the long drag up to Les Combes.

He then cut the gap to Prema's third-placed Lance Stroll, who in turn was shadowing Hubert.

Judging by his relatively slow pace on the straights and high speed in the middle sector, Russell appeared to be running higher downforce than championship leader Stroll, and this meant he had to be inventive in his bid to pass.

He speared down the inside at the Bus Stop on the 14th lap of 16, but then almost lost control while pushing to catch Hubert.

On each of the final two laps Stroll was able to draft back ahead on the Kemmel straight, only for Russell to tuck back into the Canadian's slipstream and swoop around the outside at Les Combes to take the final podium spot.

Hitech's Nikita Mazepin ran third in the early stages but the inexperienced Russian couldn't quite hold the pace, and it was Prema team-mates Cassidy and Maximilian Gunther who came through to complete the top six.

Motopark runner Niko Kari also got past Mazepin on the penultimate lap to take seventh, with the Mucke Motorsport pair of Mikkel Jensen and David Beckmann rounding out the top 10.

It was a bad race for British pair Ben Barnicoat and Callum Ilott.

They were fighting for second into Les Combes on the opening lap when contact dropped Ilott to the tail of the field and sent Barnicoat crawling to the pits with a shredded right-rear tyre, while Ilott eventually retired from the race.

RESULTS - 16 LAPS:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Joel Eriksson Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 35m32.758s
2 Anthoine Hubert Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Mercedes 1.613s
3 George Russell Hitech GP Dallara/Mercedes 3.563s
4 Lance Stroll Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 4.315s
5 Nick Cassidy Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 5.976s
6 Maximilian Guenther Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 9.543s
7 Niko Kari Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 11.124s
8 Nikita Mazepin Hitech GP Dallara/Mercedes 12.643s
9 Mikkel Jensen kfzteile Mucke Motorsport Dallara/Mercedes 15.696s
10 David Beckmann kfzteile Mucke Motorsport Dallara/Mercedes 16.101s
11 Guanyu Zhou Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 20.699s
12 Harrison Newey Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Mercedes 22.765s
13 Ralf Aron Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 23.744s
14 Pedro Piquet Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Mercedes 26.081s
15 Sergio Sette Camara Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 30.578s
16 Ryan Tveter Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 36.174s
17 Alessio Lorandi Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 39.329s
18 Weiron Tan Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 45.772s
19 Ukyo Sasahara ThreeBond with T-Sport Dallara/Threebond 47.150s
20 Ben Barnicoat Hitech GP Dallara/Mercedes 1m27.867s
- Callum Ilott Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Mercedes Retirement

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Pos Driver Points
1 Lance Stroll 296
2 Maximilian Guenther 235
3 George Russell 194
4 Nick Cassidy 194
5 Callum Ilott 183
6 Joel Eriksson 136
7 Ben Barnicoat 117
8 Anthoine Hubert 111
9 Mikkel Jensen 100
10 Ralf Aron 98
11 Alessio Lorandi 96
12 Sergio Sette Camara 89
13 Niko Kari 82
14 Guanyu Zhou 80
15 David Beckmann 42
16 Ryan Tveter 26
17 Pedro Piquet 17
18 Harrison Newey 16
19 Nikita Mazepin 5
20 Arjun Maini 3
21 Raoul Hyman 1

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