New Zealand driver Mitch Evans says he rode an emotional rollercoaster before he was confirmed GP3 motor racing champion after the final race of the season at Monza in Italy.
The 18-year-old Aucklander, driving for MW Arden, knew he could be overtaken at the top of the table only if he failed to score any points and German Daniel Abt got the chequered flag.
Abt looked on target to achieve his goal when he hit the front with two laps to go while Evans was languishing near the back of the field.
But Cypriot Tio Ellinas regained the lead he had conceded earlier to Abt and held on for victory.
Abt came home second and the 12 points he collected left him two points shy of Evans.
Evans admits to watching Ellinas on the TV screens during the race, and says he probably wasn't paying enough attention to his driving.
"I was screaming in my helmet 'Go Tio' as I knew that was my only hope for the title," he said afterwards.
"I think I'll be buying Tio a few drinks tonight. I went to see him and say thank you, he was my lifesaver. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be sitting here right now."
He started the last race at Monza 25th on the grid on the grid and moved up the field, but having got to 10th, ran wide and punctured.
He had to pit for new tyres and ended up finishing out of the points in 20th spot.
Evans, who led the eight-event GP3 championship for most of the season, is rapt to have secured the overall title despite a disappointing weekend's racing at Monza.
"It's been a huge emotional rollercoaster this weekend. To have two bad races, and then to win the championship is probably quite unusual, but it's also amazing."
He describes a transition to GP2 as the "ultimate step", but says a decision has yet to be made on whether that will happen next season.