Melbourne driver Piastri lands F3 title in nail-biting battle


Melbourne driver Oscar Piastri has taken a giant step towards his ambition of becoming Australia’s next grand prix driver by taking out the F3 title in nail-biting fashion at Mugello in Italy on Suday night.

The Victorian teenager won the F3 championship by just three points from French driver Theo Pourchaire after a gripping battle in the final race of the season.

The 19-year-old, driving for the Prema team, scored 164 points and Pourchaire 161, the latter having charged through the field and almost snatching the championship at the last gasp.

Piastri drove a calm and measured race after his task was made more straightforward on lap one when the man who began the final race as his closest pursuer, Logan Sergeant, crashed out of the contest at turn three.

Piastri had gone into the final event tied on 160 points with American Sergeant, with Pourchaire nine points adrift on 151.

The Frenchman drove a valiant race to finish third behind New Zealander Liam Lawson, with Piastri (who had started 11th on the grid) climbing up to seventh: it was just enough to make him the F3 champion and put him on the next stage to a place in Formula One.

As he crossed the line, Piastri shouted into the team radio  »yes, what a race, » but he quickly remembered to acknowledge Sergeant, who had come into the final day as his biggest rival. »I feel so bad for Logan, » said the Australian.

It was a message he repeated after the race, saying »  »I am exhausted, it was tough, the last few weeks have tested me emotionally. I have been consistent throughout the year and keeping my head cool has been the biggest thing for me. »

Michael Lynch is The Age’s chief soccer reporter and also reports on motor sport and horseracing


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