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.Results to follow