Red Bull Ring F3: Eriksson sweeps Sunday poles

Joel Eriksson took a double pole position for Sunday’s two Formula 3 European Championship races at the Red Bull Ring, while series leader Lando Norris will join him on the front row for both.

Red Bull Ring F3: Eriksson sweeps Sunday poles

BMW junior Eriksson looked utterly supreme for most of the session, driving his Motopark-run machine with great flair, and as the chequered flag flew he had set three laps quicker than Norris’s best.

But McLaren protege Norris pulled a great lap out of the bag right at the end, the Carlin driver falling short of Eriksson’s 1m23.431s best by just 0.003 seconds.

Even if Norris had pipped Eriksson, the Swede would have grabbed pole for the third race – set by second-fastest times – owing to his other quick laps.

“It [the overall fastest] was a bloody good lap actually,” said Eriksson. “Everything was spot-on, and there was a good peak in the tyre.

“In the race this morning we had some issues in sector two and we’ve actually fixed it, and directly I felt much more confident.

“I started pushing, got to a 23.4, and thought, ‘S***, it’s not going to get any better than that’, and then I did another to get as close as possible – everything was perfect.”

Norris, who reported that the handling issues that held him back on Friday were sorted by the first race, felt that earlier in the session he was pushing his entry speeds into the slow corners too much, compromising his exits.

“It was just a case of getting better exits and gaining more and more down the straights,” he said. “It felt really good, and compared to yesterday it was a good improvement.”

First-race winner Callum Ilott got bumped off the front row late in the session by Norris, and then his Prema Powerteam car was demoted on the last lap by Hitech GP’s Nikita Mazepin.

Mazepin’s second-best lap was good enough for fourth on the grid for race three, behind Ilott, in one of the Russian’s best sessions to date.

Carlin’s Force India protege Jehan Daruvala (another to improve on the last lap) and Hitech’s Jake Hughes were fifth and sixth overall, but slip to fifth-row positions for race three on second-best times.

Another Hitech driver, Ralf Aron, also went quicker at the last gasp to take seventh, and starts fifth for the finale, while Carlin man Ferdinand Habsburg is on the fourth row for both races on his home ground.

Maximilian Gunther looked spectacular on-track again but it was a bad session for Norris’s closest title challenger, the Prema-run German taking ninth overall but improving to sixth on the grid for race three.

Gunther is 70 points adrift of Norris, and needs to prevent the Briton outscoring him by five points in Sunday’s two races to take the title to the Hockenheim finale.

Prema’s Ferrari junior Guan Yu Zhou and Hitech’s Honda protege Tadasuke Makino each took a top-10 slot, 10th for race two and eighth for race three respectively.

Red Bull Ring F3: Ilott beats Eriksson in opening race
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Red Bull Ring F3: Eriksson wins, Norris closes on title

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