Formula One is waiting for Oscar Piastri after he clinched the FIA Formula 3 Championship for 2020.
As Mark Webber welcomed him with a hug at the end of his winning campaign, the big question now is where he will land for 2021.
This year was supposed to have been a learning year in F3 for the Melbourne teenager but the rookie has already proven he has the right stuff for a graduation to Formula 2 next year, and perhaps to follow Webber and Daniel Ricciardo onto the grand prix grid.
Piastri showed his class and commitment as he kept his head through the championship decider at Mugello in Italy, although he could not resist a last-second pass that took him to seventh place on the finish line.
“That was a massive sigh of relief. I cannot believe I just won that thing,” Piastri says.
He faced an uphill battle at the start of the decider as he was only 11th on the grid and his main title rival, his American team mate Logan Sargeant at Prema Racing, was six places closer to the front.
But Sargeant crashed out of the race at the second corner and Piastri only had to manage the points gap to mercurial youngster Theo Pourchaire, who rose steadily to finish third but could still not stop Piastri taking the title with a three-point margin after 18 races.
“I feel so bad for Logan. You never want to see that. I would have wanted to fight to the death,” says Piastri.
It’s been a tough year for Piastri, who has been a little short on qualifying speed and also had a series of mechanical dramas in the middle of the season. But he dug deep and did the job in Mugello, showing once again why he has earned Webber’s backing and won a place in the Renault Academy that is being used to groom future F1 stars.
He looked completely drained after the championship and was happy to admit it.
“Exhausted. To be honest. Tough race. And the last few weeks have put me to the test emotionally,” he says.
“I think I’ve been quite consistent over the year. And the way I’ve bounced back from all the setbacks. I think my consistency, and keeping my head cool, was the biggest thing.”