Stefano Coletti took his maiden F3 Euro Series victory in the season-opening race at Hockenheim on Saturday.
The Prema Powerteam driver, who had been set for pole position until a late charge from Sam Bird, snatched the lead into the first corner and was never headed from there.
He opened out a solid lead in the early stages and resisted a late comeback from Roberto Merhi to hang on for the win.
Merhi took second after a charging first lap, where he moved up from fourth on the grid in the first few corners. He was pushed all the way for second by Bird, who tried on several occasions to get around the rookie.
But Bird had to settle for the final step on the podium, comfortably ahead of Mika Maki. The Finn ran behind Jules Bianchi early on, but he passed the title favourite four fourth at the hairpin on lap seven and pulled away after that.
Bianchi took a lonely fifth ahead of Jean-Karl Vernay and Christian Vietoris, while Atte Mustonen took eighth and pole position for Sunday's race for series newcomer Motopark Academy.
Mustonen had lost several places with a bad start, but he worked his way back up to ninth and then gained another place when Henkie Waldschmidt suffered mechanical problems with two laps to go, costing him seventh place.
Pos Driver Team Car Gap 1. Stefano Coletti Prema D/M 25m20.955s 2. Roberto Merhi Manor D/M +1.070 3. Sam Bird Mucke D/M +1.534 4. Mika Maki Signature D/V +3.249 5. Jules Bianchi ART D/M +7.838 6. Jean-Karl Vernay Signature D/V +11.234 7. Christian Vietoris Mucke D/M +13.329 8. Atte Mustonen Motopark D/M +19.172 9. Matteo Chinosi Prema D/M +23.260 10. Tiago Geronimi Signature D/V +24.697 11. Robert Wickens Kolles D/V +27.520 12. Marco Wittmann Mucke D/M +28.072 13. Adrien Tambay ART D/M +34.406 14. Christopher Zanella Motopark D/M +35.686 15. Andrea Caldarelli SG D/M +36.851 16. Esteban Gutierrez ART D/M +38.328 17. Alexander Sims Mucke D/M +44.802 18. Carlo van Dam Kolles D/V +45.733 19. Brendon Hartley Carlin D/V +48.915 20. Pedro Henrique Manor D/M +1m02.299 21. Johnny Cecotto Jr HBR D/M +1 lap 22. Casar Ramos Manor D/M +3 laps Retirements Henkie Waldschmidt SG D/M 14 laps Basil Shaaban Prema D/M 14 laps Alexandre Marsoin SG D/M 12 laps Jake Rosenzweig Carlin D/V 8 laps Kevin Mirocha HBR D/M 2 laps Valtteri Bottas ART D/M 1 lap Fastest lap, Sims 1:34.174 on lap 6