Not even a three places’ grid penalty could prevent British driver Lando Norris (Carlin) from winning the 18th race of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship season. At the 7.004 kilometres long race track of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, the McLaren junior driver won with a margin of 2.393 seconds over Swedish BMW junior Joel Eriksson (Motorpark) and Ferrari protégé Guanyu Zhou (Prema Powerteam) from China. Maximilian Günther, the Mercedes-backed FIA Formula 3 European Championship points’ leader, retired after a collision with Jake Hughes (Hitech Grand Prix), but remains in the lead of the drivers’ standings.
In qualifying, Lando Norris had claimed pole position for this race, but due to a collision with Guanyu Zhou in yesterday’s race, he was only allowed to start from fourth place on the grid. Pole position went to Callum Ilott (Prema Powerteam), who led the field for the first few metres of the race. On the long Kemmel straight, however, Guanyu Zhou overtook the Brit on the opening lap and Ilott lost further positions to Maximilian Günther and Lando Norris on lap one. One lap later, Norris moved up into second place, but race leader Zhou already had a 1.3 seconds lead at that time.
Soon after that, Maximilian Günther and Jake Hughes collided, which caused the safety car to be deployed. At the restart, Norris took his chance and overtook Zhou for the lead. Afterwards, he gradually extended his lead and then drove a safe victory home.
Behind Norris, Joel Eriksson, who had started from tenth place on the grid, worked his way up through the ranks. After 15 laps of racing, he took the chequered flag in second place ahead of Guanyu Zhou. Callum Ilott finished fourth from Jehan Daruvala (Carlin), Ferdinand Habsburg (Carlin), Ralf Aron (Hitech Grand Prix), Mick Schumacher (Prema Powerteam), Harrison Newey (Van Amersfoort Racing) and Joey Mawson (Van Amersfoort Racing).
Lando Norris (Carlin): “For me, the second race wasn’t good, but things had been going really well until then. Therefore, I really wanted to win today. I think that fourth place on the grid at Spa isn’t that much of a disadvantage at all. Once again, I had a good start in this race which is very important to me after the many weak starts I have had this season.”
Joel Eriksson (Motopark): “In this race, I was really fast again, I probably even had the fastest car in the field. After the relatively troublesome start of the weekend here at Spa, it is good that we had a really good car for the last two races of the weekend. I am very happy with the podium finish.”
Guanyu Zhou (Prema Powerteam): “Yesterday, I had bad luck as I retired after an accident. Today, I had a good start and I was able to take the lead early in the race. The safety car intervention was rather annoying for me, because that made me lose my advantage over Lando. He attacked me from the slipstream right after the restart, so that I didn’t have a chance to defend. Later, my tyres degraded, but on the final lap, I still managed to overtake Callum and claim third place.”