Young Australian driver Oscar Piastri has taken a major step towards a career in Formula 1® after winning the 2020 FIA Formula 3 World Championship in his rookie year.
The 19-year-old claimed the F3 title by a slim margin of three points at the weekend, having entered the final round at Mugello just eight points ahead of his closest rival.
Piastri benefited greatly when teammate and championship rival Logan Sargeant crashed out early in the second and final race of the weekend, the pair on equal points after Saturday's race.
But a surprising battle ensued when French driver Theo Pourchaire (ART Grand Prix), who was third in the drivers' standings and nine points behind Piastri, made a charge through the field to finish third.
Piastri crossed the line in seventh place, earning him enough points to secure the title.
"I've been quite consistent over the year and I think also the way I've bounced back from those setbacks we've had," Piastri said.
"We've had quite a few technical issues and other problems to deal with, so I think my consistency and keeping my head cool has been been the biggest thing."
"The last few weeks have certainly put me to the test emotionally," added Piastri, who also offered his sympathy for Sargeant.
"I just can't really believe we just won that thing. Obviously, I feel really sorry for Logan. You never want to see that happen to your teammate and your title rival."
The F3 drivers' championship capped what has been a dominant year for Piastri's Prema Racing outfit, who claimed the teams' championship by an astounding 209 points.
Success in F3 is traditionally seen as a major step towards a career in F1®, with Piastri expected to graduate to the FIA Formula 2 World Championship – the second tier of the single-seater pyramid – in 2021.
"Providing everything goes well in the off-season, I think a move to F2 is on the cards," Piastri added.
"Obviously, I can't do F3 again, so ideally I'd be doing F2 and hopefully that's where I'll end up."
Piastri celebrated his F3 championship success with mentor and former Australian F1® driver Mark Webber.