Antonio Pizzonia was lord of all he surveyed at Hockenheim, as he took a commanding first victory in the FIA F3000 series.

The Brazilian made light of the fact that he was only starting sixth on the grid - and the fact that F3000 is not supposed to provide much in the way overtaking - by taking advantage of a melee at the start to move into second spot by the end of the first lap. Once ahead of championship leader Justin Wilson two laps later, the Amazonian pulled serenely away to finally turn to domination he showed in the junior formulae into F3000 success.

Wilson went on to take second place - and another podium finish in an increasingly impressive campaign - ahead of pole-sitter, and Pizzonia's Petrobras team-mate, Ricardo Sperafico. The Briton's day was enhanced by poor results for both his championship challengers, as Sebastien Bourdais, Tomas Enge and Bas Leinders completed the top six.

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Wilson's rivals were reduced in number as early as the end of the opening lap, as Mark Webber discovered that what he thought was merely a broken front wing was actually much worse. The skirmish approaching the first corner saw the Australian rudely chopped by Britain's Darren Manning, causing him to swerve perilously close to the pit wall, and his line into the turn was sufficiently compromised that contact was inevitable. Dropping places all the way around the 4.2mile Hockenheim lap, Webber was eventually forced to call it a day in pit-lane.

All this took place behind the front three, which quickly became a four as Pizzonia made a lightning start to avoid the scramble for places.

Sperafico made full use of his pole to lead away as the lights went out, but quickly found each mirror full of red Nordic car as both Wilson, from second, and Enge made perfect getaways. First the Czech, then his British team-mate, took turns to pressure the inexperienced Brazilian, before Wilson finally found a way past as the field re-entered the Stadium section.

By the time they crossed the line again, Pizzonia had disposed of both Enge and his team-mate, and was running an increasingly close second to Wilson. The return section was then the scene for another passing move, as the young Brazilian got a run on the championship leader and, having had one effort rebuffed, promptly dived through into the Senna chicane. From that point on, Wilson and the rest would have but a distant view of a fleeing Jungle Boy.

With Pizzonia making good his escape, Wilson came under renewed pressure from Sperafico and Enge who, in turn, were enjoying what would become a lasting battle for the final podium place. The Czech managed to pass his adversary entering Senna for the fourth time, but almost lost all he had gained when he out-braked himself at the same place next time around. His run across the chicane did not gain anything, but neither did it allow Sperafico to capitalise on the mistake,and Enge continued to lead the pursuit of Wilson.

Further back, the fancied runners were already dropping away, with Manning paying for his first lap move by out-braking himself at Clark and spinning into retirement whilst trying to pass Tomas Scheckter on lap two. Already out by this stage, Webber apart, were fourth place starter Andrea Piccini, who lost it at the Ost Kurve first time around, and Fabrizio Gollin, who also sustained damage on lap one.

Of those still running after the frantic opening, another would soon be making an unscheduled pit call of his own, courtesy of a minor indiscretion. Patrick Friesacher stalled at the start of the formation lap - no doubt as the result of the delayed start while Hockenheim's electrics were fixed - and then trying to regain his place on the grid after the field had passed him. The Austrian looked likely to be joined in the penalty box by one-off returnee Scheckter but the South African retired at about the time he was to be called in.

The luckless Derek Hill had also been forced out of the proceedings, this time as a result of Jonathan Cochet's over-ambition. The French F3 champion was keen to make up ground after only qualifying on the back row, but his move on Hill, while also chasing Enrico Toccacelo, was more than ambitious, and resulted in the American being pushed towards the tyres while Cochet and Maslov spun in unison trying to avoid the gravel. Mario Haberfeld retired after an unrelated spin.

Back at the front and Enge's charge finally told. Exchanging fastest laps with Pizzonia, the Czech was closing on team-mate Wilson when he put a wheel over the kerb at the Nord Kurve, spinning back across the track before rejoining, chastened, in sixth behind Bourdais and Scheckter, who has swapped places in the confusion.

The South African was quickly picked off by a recovering Enge before retiring, and Silverstone winner Bourdais provided little obstacle as the Czech drafted him down to the Senna chicane before diving back into fourth spot. The Nordic car's speed through the tighter sections was apparent - where others had gone for streamlining on the straights - and Sperafico was soon back on the menu for a point-hungry Enge.

With Pizzonia and Wilson now looking safe in the front two positions, all eyes began to focus on the battle for the final podium place between the rookie Sperafico and last year's Hockenheim winner Enge. The Czech closed remorselessly on his younger rival, so that, by lap 19, they were nose-to-tail once again.

Weighing up his opportunities, Enge opted for the outside line entering the Stadium section for the twentieth time, but was roughly forced back into fourth as Sperafico tried everything he knew not to be passed. Undeterred, Enge tried again two laps later, having had to make up more lost ground, and appeared to have won the place as he out-dragged the Brazilian from Senna.

Once again, however, Sperafico fought for his position, forcing Enge into his slipstream as they entered the Stadium for the last time. Knowing that it was now or never - and that there was only a point to be won or lost in his attempt - Enge tried the outside line one last time, only to find that his lunge at the Petrobras car put Sperafico on too tight a line for the Agip Kurve. The Brazilian's trajectory caused him to touch Enge lightly as the two cars exited the corner, and resulted in the Nordic driver bouncing across the gravel in search of something solid from which to gain traction.

Remarkably, the Czech made it to the grass perimeter, and was able to rejoin before sixth-place Bas Leinders hove into view. A point to be gained had turned in a point lost for Enge, however, and it could prove vital come the end of the season.

Pizzonia went on to record a maiden F3000 victory by the margin of almost five seconds, but Wilson's second place - and the six points it carries with it - could prove to be almost as valuable. With Webber out and Enge hobbled by his own enthusiasm, the Briton has now opened out a ten point advantage with three races to run, and will leave the Hungaroring after a three-week break still heading the championship whatever happens.