Maxi Günther wins the final race of the F3 season
But with Eriksson breathing down his neck, did he secure second in the Championship?
29 races have passed since the season started. Seven rookies joined the fray, one of whom conquered all of the rest and became Champion. One team brought some normality to the order, taking the teams Championship for the seventh year in a row and all that was left was the final. One last race to decide where they fall and how that would impact their future.
Maxi Günther lined up on pole, having been ruled out of winning the title at the hands of rookie, Lando Norris, he was in an intense scrap over second place with Joel Eriksson who started the race down in fifth. One last hurrah with it all to play for.
Callum Ilott lined up alongside his Prema teammate with the third of the World Championship winning cars, driven by Guanyu Zhou, right behind making it another 1, 2, 3 start for the dominant force in the series. Norris, started from seventh and, with the championship in the bag, was prepared to give it his all to go out on a high.
Günther got a brilliant start whilst Ilott bogged down massively off the line and by the time he got going, was in behind Norris in eighth. Jake Hughes, who made it into third place at the expense of Ilott, found himself more occupied with a determined Eriksson behind him than with Zhou up ahead in second and on the second lap, he relinquished the place to the Swede.
Mick Shumacher, in the fourth Prema car, had to pit at the end of lap two following contact with Ralf Aron, leaving him with a broken wing and Aron with a puncture. A disappointing end to the season with his teammates up front and fighting for podiums.
Norris started to make inroads on those ahead. He had fought his way up to fifth behind Jake Hughes but just as he was setting up a move, Ferdinand Habsburg got a bit keen behind Marino Sato, making contact wheel to wheel and finding himself in the barrier.
Much to Günther’s benefit, who was losing time to Eriksson, a full course yellow (FCY) was thrown to recover the stricken Carlin so he could, theoretically, keep the gap he had built.
As is the way with the FCY, some anticipate the restart better than others and, as the race went green again, Norris was able to get the jump on Hughes to nab fourth, one second behind the podium positions.
At the half way point in the race, it looked as though Eriksson’s charge was being neutralised by Günther up front. The pair matched in sector times and gap remaining constant, each of them looking comfortable enough.
After his disappointing start, Ilott had kept enough life in his tyres to try and salvage a better result, in keeping with the impressive form he has shown in the latter half of the year. He closed the gap to Jake Hughes who then locked up at the hairpin, allowing Ilott to get alongside and, after some carefully timed switch backs, he was able to make the move stick off the final turn, moving up into fifth position.
After some hot laps at the tail end of the podium places, there was no more in it for Norris who had to settle for fourth in the end while Maxi Güther took the flag ahead of his rival Joel Eriksson. Guanyu Zhou held on to his position and took the final step of the podium.
Here is the provisional result from Race 3
Provisional results from the final race of the season [Image: FIA F3]
It was a dominant performance by Günther but it marks a bitter sweet end to his season. Just as it came to crunch time, when the season was coming to a close, he had a dip in form after such a great start, meaning he couldn’t apply the pressure on Norris that he otherwise may have mustered. As the championship was decided, he got back on winning form but it was too little too late for both the win and, as it turned out, second place.
Eriksson’s second place finish in the race places him five points ahead of Günther in the standings, securing that second placed finish in the Championship and relegating the German to third.
Despite that, and the fact that the overall winner never looked in any doubt, there was impressive racing from all this season and all that remains to be seen now is what awaits them in 2018.