Renault junior Oscar Piastri has been hailed for his debut FIA Formula 3 Championship race win by his manager, Mark Webber.
Piastri shook off a sizeable opening corner hit to take the lead up the hill at Turn 3 of the Red Bull Ring when he drove around the outside of Lirim Zendeli.
From there, the Prema Racing driver led comfortably for almost 24 more laps and took the chequered flag 1.7s up on team-mate Logan Sargeant.
“What an incredible Formula 3 debut for Oscar,” exclaimed Webber.
“It’s been challenging times for everybody over the past few months, so this is a special moment for him.
“Oscar was quick in practice, good in qualifying, and he had a brilliant first lap with decisive moves at the first corner.
“From there he controlled the race very clinically to the chequered flag.
“I’m very proud of him, and he and Prema have got the championship off to a very nice start.”
Said the 19-year-old Melburnian himself, “Winning the first race is a great start to the year.
“It was very scary at Turn 1 at the start, and I thought that it was going to be race over 10 seconds into my debut, but thankfully I got through that and made a good move on Zendeli into Turn 3.
“Then, I just controlled it from there. The tyre degradation was a bit more than we were expecting and halfway into the race I was struggling a bit with the rears.
“Logan Sargeant was catching me and bringing the train with him, so I had to stay on my toes.
“I couldn’t have started the year any better really, and hopefully we can make up a few spots in the reverse grid tomorrow.”
Of the four Australians who started the race, two finished on the podium with Campos Racing’s Alex Peroni claiming third.
The Tasmanian, whose 2019 F3 campaign came to a spectacular end when he crashed at Monza, started eighth but made up several spots in the early laps.
He rounded up Zendeli on Lap 6 to move into the rostrum positions before pressuring Sargeant, who he was unable to usurp.
Peroni did, however, pick up two bonus championship points for the fastest lap of the race.
“I’m so happy to be on the podium and set the fastest race lap for the first time in FIA Formula 3, and in the first race of the 2020 season,” he said.
“It’s been a long wait with the championship delayed because of the pandemic, but Campos Racing has done an incredible job to give me a car capable of competing up front.
“The car was very quick in the first part of the race, but the rear tyres went off as race went on so I had to manage my position.
“I’m so pleased for everyone who’s supported me, even through some dark times last year.
“It feels good, but it’s only the first race of the season and we have a lot of racing to come.”
New Zealander Liam Lawson (Hitech Grand Prix) finished sixth, Jack Doohan (HWA Racelab) was 14th on debut, and Calan Williams (Jenzer Motorsport) took 21st in his first start in the championship.
Race 2, featuring a reverse top 10 on the grid, starts this evening at 17:45 AEST.