Joel Eriksson held off the challenge of Lando Norris at Pau to take his third victory of the 2017 FIA European Formula 3 Championship season as pole sitter Callum Ilott crashed out on the opening lap.
Motopark ace Eriksson denied Norris by just 0.243 seconds at the end of the 23-lap race, which was twice interrupted by the introduction of the safety car.
Ilott kept the lead at the start but made a mistake at Pont Oscar halfway around the opening lap, hitting the barriers hard and breaking his suspension. The Prema Powerteam drivers retirement handed Eriksson the lead after the Swede had jumped Norris at the start.
The safety car was soon required in order to clear the crashed car of Guan Yu Zhou, with the Prema Powerteam driver left stranded on the outside of the track in a zone where there was no crane to lift his car away. Initially officials tried to clear it up using just a full course yellow, but with the car requiring to be lifted away, the safety car was eventually deployed.
The second safety car was needed for a crash for Joey Mawson, who was running a strong third for Van Amersfoort Racing. The Australian lost control on the right-hander before Foch as light rain fell across the circuit, the slippery conditions pushing the 2016 ADAC Formula 4 Champion into the barriers.
Running behind Mawson, Jake Dennis also hit the same barrier almost in sympathy with the Australian, with the Carlin driver ending his own race in the barriers at Foch with broken suspension, but not before he clipped Maximilian Günther, with the Prema Powerteam driver lucky to escape any significant damage.
The race resumed with just over a minute on the clock remaining, and Eriksson held on over the final two laps despite pressure from Norris, while Günther took a lucky podium ahead of Nikita Mazepin, who held off the race long challenge from Hitech Grand Prix team-mate Ralf Aron to take fourth.
Harrison Newey was sixth for Van Amersfoort Racing, who will be disappointed to lose out on a first podium finish of the season thanks to Mawson’s crash, while Pedro Piquet was seventh.
Mick Schumacher was eighth for Prema Powerteam ahead of Ferdinand Habsburg of Carlin, but both drivers are under investigation for passing under yellow flags, while the final point on offer went to Carlin’s Jehan Daruvala.
Jake Hughes was on course for a top six finish for Hitech Grand Prix, but the British racer crashed out at Foch the lap before Mawson and Dennis retired.
Pau Race 1 Result
|1||1||Joel Eriksson||SWE||Motopark||23 Laps|
|3||3||Maximilian Gunther||GER||Prema Powerteam||+2.636s|
|4||99||Nikita Mazepin||RUS||Hitech Grand Prix||+3.560s|
|5||7||Ralf Aron||EST||Hitech Grand Prix||+3.970s|
|6||17||Harrison Newey||GBR||Van Amersfoort Racing||+4.564s|
|7||5||Pedro Piquet||BRZ||Van Amersfoort Racing||+5.383s|
|8||25||Mick Schumacher||GER||Prema Powerteam||+5.825s|
|11||55||David Beckmann||GER||Van Amersfoort Racing||+8.229s|
|12||47||Keyvan Andres Soori||GER||Motopark||+9.071s|
|13||11||Tadasuke Makino||JAP||Hitech Grand Prix||+9.616s|
|RET||96||Joey Mawson||AUS||Van Amersfoort Racing||Retired|
|RET||34||Jake Hughes||GBR||Hitech Grand Prix||Retired|
|RET||8||Guan Yu Zhou||CHN||Prema Powerteam||Retired|
|RET||53||Callum Ilott||GBR||Prema Powerteam||Retired|