Formula 3 European Championship leader Joel Eriksson emerged victorious from Race 1 at the Pau street circuit on Saturday morning, mastering a damp circuit and holding off rival Lando Norris to be first over the line.
The Motopark driver had started third, behind Norris and polesitter Callum Ilott, but a shot at the podium became a shot at the win when he passed Norris as the lights went out and Ilott thumped the barrier after just a few corners. This ended the Briton's race and put the Swede into the lead, followed by Norris and Joey Mawson.
Norris piled on the pressure early, setting his first fastest lap on the third tour. Lap 5 saw the rain begin to fall in patches around the circuit, and as Ferdinand Habsburg and Mick Schumacher were investigated for overtaking under yellow flags on lap 1, Guanyu Zhou became the second retirement when he crashed out a short distance away from team-mate Ilott.
The marshals were struggling to clear away the Prema car at a tricky point on the course, so the Safety Car was deployed shortly after the accident, remaining out until lap 11. The top three held their positions at the restart, but Mawson soon began to drop back in third as Jake Dennis also faltered behind him. This did not stop Mawson from setting a fastest lap, however, as he did so on lap 16, proving that he had not yet lost all of his pace.
By the next lap, Norris was only six-tenths of a second behind Eriksson, but his rapid progress was halted when Jake Hughes crashed out. He would be joined on the sidelines by Mawson and Dennis, who tagged the wall just behind the Australian and broke his suspension.
The chaos led to a second Safety Car period, and by the time it peeled off again, Norris had only two laps to steal victory from Eriksson. Ultimately, his efforts were fruitless, and Eriksson held on to win from Norris and Max Gunther, who had inherited third despite a damaged front wing. Nikita Mazepin was fourth, having resisted pressure from Ralf Aron, who had to settle for fifth.
Harrison Newey was sixth, ahead of Pedro Piquet and the aforementioned Habsburg and Schumacher, whose positions may change following the investigation by the stewards. Jehan Daruvala completed the top ten, and David Beckmann, Kevyan Andres Soori, Tadasuke Makino and Marino Sato were the last of the 14 finishers. The five retirements were Ilott, Zhou, Hughes, Dennis and Mawson respectively.