The Filipino-Swiss, who was fifth on the grid, made a strong start to move up to fourth. He was then promoted to second when two cars in front were penalised for false starts. After a safety-car period, he chased hard for victory and finished just 2.6 seconds behind the race winner.

The result means that Stockinger is the first Philippines national to finish on the podium in a major European single-seater series and at a Formula 1 race weekend.

It also lays the foundations for a strong title challenge from Stockinger and the Status GP team. With the leading eight finishers from today’s race reversed on the grid for tomorrow, he will start seventh. This will give him another chance for strong points in the race that acts as a curtain raiser to the Spanish Grand Prix.

"When you start in the top five everything is always possible. The boys worked hard to give me a good car and it’s great that I finished on the podium in the first race of the season. There was a bit of chaos at the start with the jump-starting cars, but after that it wasn’t too hectic for me. We have a little bit to work on to get the best out of the tyres in tomorrow’s race but for now I am very happy!” says Marlon Stockinger

Japan’s Kotaro Sakurai ran very strongly on his GP3 race debut. He was 15th on the grid and then rose the order to 12th in a very close midfield battle. Unfortunately for Sakurai it got too close on lap 14 of the 16-lap race. He was edged wide by a rival onto the dirty line, and dropped to 18th as he fought to recover from dust on his Pirelli P Zero tyres.

British racer Alice Powell also made her GP3 debut with Status GP. With very little testing time in a GP3 car she impressed by qualifying 18th. But her race lasted only two corners when she was collected by a spinning rival and was forced into the gravel trap.