Esteban Ocon became the sixth winner of the GP3 Series on Sunday in Abu Dhabi after edging out championship rival Luca Ghiotto in a tantalizing title decider at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Ocon entered the final race of the season leading Ghiotto by six points after taking pole position on Saturday and finishing fifth following a time penalty.
The two championship protagonists started fourth and fifth on the grid, but it was Ocon who made a better start to jump ahead of Ghiotto.
Contact was made between the duo, costing Ghiotto a small part of his front-wing endplate and dropping the Italian down to P7.
Ghiotto fought his way back up to fourth place, knowing that he had to catch and pass Ocon in third if he was to stand any chance of winning the title for Trident.
However, Ocon managed to eke out a small advantage over the laps that followed, dropping Ghiotto into the clutches of Jimmy Eriksson behind.
Although Ghiotto managed to stay fourth, he could not catch Ocon, who kept his cool to cross the line third and claim the series title.
Despite winning just one race all year long, a further 13 podium finishes in 18 races proved crucial as Ocon beat Ghiotto by eight points in the final standings.
“It’s what we wanted to achieve since the beginning of the season, and I’m very happy to finally achieve it,” Ocon said.
“It was a long season, and especially a long weekend, a lot of stress but yes, very happy to end up with the championship win.”
The Frenchman recently joined Mercedes’ driver academy as a full member, and has been tipped for a move into either GP2 or DTM for the 2016 season.
The race in Abu Dhabi was won by Campos Racing’s Alex Palou, marking the young Spaniard’s first victory in GP3. He beat Ferrari youngster Antonio Fuoco by 4.4 seconds as the Italian picked up his second podium finish of the year.