An exhausted Oscar Piastri admitted his victory in the 2020 FIA Formula 3 Championship hasn’t yet sunk in.
The Australian hung on in a cliffhanger season finale which saw his main rival, Logan Sargeant, eliminated on the opening lap.
His championship advantage then came under pressure from the charging Theo Pourchaire but in the end was able to do enough to secure the crown by just two points.
“(I’m) Exhausted to be honest,” Piastri admitted immediately after the race in which he finished seventh.
“It was a tough race and I think the last few weeks have certainly put me to the test emotionally.
“Still 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 team-mate and your title rival, so that’s what I’m going to do when I get back, try and console him.”
Piastri’s Prema Racing team-mate, Sargeant found himself squeezed out on the opening lap in an incident that left him buried in the gravel at Luco (Turn 2).
From there, Piastri’s task was simply to manage his nine point title advantage over Pourchaire, who needed to climb to third at least to have any chance of the crown.
Though the rapid Frenchman made it onto the podium by the end of the 21 lap encounter, Piastri manged to climb to seventh, enough to seal the crown.
It capped off a strong year for the Renault Sport Academy driver, who started the year with victory in the opening race of the season in Austria.
He was victorious again in Spain before retirements in Race 2 in Monza, and in the opening race in Mugello saw Sargeant draw level on points heading into the finale.
“I think I’ve been quite consistent over the year, and I think also the way I bounced back from all the setbacks we’ve had,” he said when asked what the key was to his championship success.
“We had quite a few technical issues and other problems to deal with, so I think my consistency and keeping my head cool’s been the biggest thing.
“Obviously the beginning of this weekend wasn’t ideal, then to finish one spot off the reverse grid pole yesterday was pretty frustrating, but that doesn’t really matter now, does it?”
The 19-year-old saved special mention for rivals Sargeant and Pourchaire, paying tribute to the challenge offered by both.
“To Logan, I can’t imagine how you’re feeling right now, man,” he said.
“You just never want to see that and I’m sorry it had to end that way. I would have loved to fight to the death.
“And to Theo, he was very, very good in the second half of the year.
“At the first half of the year we were joking that some of his wins came with a bit of luck, but he definitely proved his worth in the second half.
“Massive congrats to both of those guys, and looking forward to probably racing them again in the years to come.”
Piastri ended the 2020 FIA Formula 3 Championship with 164 points, three clear of Pourchaire in second, with Sargeant stranded on 160 points in third.