Liam Lawson claimed his maiden FIA Formula 2 victory in Bahrain in his first-ever race in the category, leaving the 19-year-old out of words.
The young Kiwi led all 23 laps and fended off a brilliant tussle with Jehan Daruvala to reach the chequered flag first.
Lawson started from the second row but was in the lead by the time the field had surged to turn one.
Lawson gave himself some brief breathing space before tyre wear began to hinder his pace and Daruvala began to reel him in.
“It was a pretty good race,” Lawson said. “I think it was mostly down to the start.
“We had a really good launch, and once I got the lead, I tried to figure out where the balance was going to go and after I got that figured out it was just about managing from there.
“Jehan came strong midway through, and because he was a lot faster, I honestly thought he was going to get me, so I was preparing myself for as much defensive as I could, and he pressured me to the end.
“I am speechless at the moment honestly. It’s awesome to win races, but the end goal is the Championship so it’s a good start but it’s a very long way to go.”
The final margin between Lawson and Daruvala over the line was just 0.9s.
“To be fair to [Lawson], he did a very good job,” Daruvala said. “I tried to use my experience from last year on the tyre management, but he managed everything as well as he could.
“He didn’t make and mistakes and I ran out tyres towards the end as well, but I gave it everything and I pushed for the win and I’m still happy with second.”
Unfortunately, the other New Zealander in the field, Marcus Armstrong, had a miserable opening affair after he rolled to a halt at turn one.
The F2 paddock then held its first back-to-back sprint race a few hours later, with mixed results for our Kiwi duo.
Lawson was made to start tenth courtesy of his win in race one, and yet another lightning launch had him vault to fourth by the end of the opening tour.
A safety car to collect a handful of strewn cars was deployed moments later. Lawson then pounced on Lirim Zendeli off the restart to snatch third.
Holding up a small gaggle of cars in the race’s middle leg, Lawson was turned around at turn four by an overly eager Felipe Drugovich on lap 15.
The Hitech driver retired from the race with suspension damage.
Armstrong finished tenth despite running as high as second in a feature race won by Australian rookie Oscar Piastri.
The final F2 race of the weekend will be the feature, with Lawson starting eighth and Armstrong in 14th.
That race is scheduled to start at 11.50 pm NZT tonight and can be seen live on Spark Sport.