Veloce’s Summary of the F1 Esports Series First Event
Three races were split across two days; Bahrain made for great entertainment on Wednesday, where we saw Aston Martin take the first victory thanks to first-time winner Lucas Blakeley.
And then in China, McLaren Shadows’ new signing Bari Boroumand secured pole in his third F1 Esports series race, whilst Jarno Opmeer (Mercedes) ultimately clutched the win.
Thursday came around, and the drivers took to a drizzly Austria where Opmeer claimed his second win, with Rasmussen (Redbull) and Boroumand taking the second and third podium places.
So far, 2 out of the 3 Veloce managed teams (McLaren Shadow, Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Esports Team and Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen F1 Esports) sit inside the Top 5 team standings. So this championship is one to watch. Check out how each team did below.
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Esports Team
Qualifying was not ideal for Mercedes. Both drivers were not 100% happy with their set-up, leaving Dani Moreno and Jarno qualifying in P4 and P6, respectively.
When it came to the main event, both Jarno and Dani chose the M-S strategy, which unfortunately was the wrong call. With a calculated undercut, Jarno managed to get ahead into P4, and Dani manoeuvred into P5 after overtaking Bari in the race’s final corner with an aggressive move down the inside.
With a less than desirable outcome from Bahrain, both Jarno and Dani came back fighting. A highly competitive Q2 session meant that both were eliminated despite being within two-tenths of the fastest driver.
However, during the race, a stroke of genius from the returning champion, who made the call to start in Intermediates (the only driver to do so), leading to Mercedes first win of the season. The Mercedes driver managed to save a pit stop when the conditions changed, and other drivers could not continue on full-wets. Dani, who began the race with a good pace, struggled to make an impact - after pitting a little too early, he placed in P8, still managing to bring points home.
Finally, Thursday seemed to bring around a change in luck for Opmeer and Moreno, as the team mastered the changing conditions, leading them to set the fastest laps when the track was at its best. Dani dominated the way and was set for pole, but when the rain came in sector three of his lap, he dropped to P2.
Both drivers worked together to hold P1 and P2 during the opening phases of the race. But the rain soon came and prevented both drivers from pitting on the perfect lap - meaning that Dani dropped to P12, only managing to progress to P10, while Jarno managed to stay in control for the remainder of the race.
McLaren Shadow felt solid coming into Qualifying for Bahrain but were wary of the intense competition across the grid, making for a tough opening round. Bari came out in impressive form for the first session of the season, grasping an incredible P3.
For the race, Bari and Dani Bereznay opted for an M-S strategy to launch an attack on the two leaders in the later stage of the race. An unfortunate collision later bumped Bari down to P6 and Dani to P14.
China presented itself as an opportunity for McLaren to push Bahrain behind them. China held a considerable amount of meaning to McLaren as it marked Josh Idowu’s debut event. Both racers came out well during the qualifier, with Boroumand grabbing P1 and Idowu securing P7.
Due to the full wet weather, this race presented a different kind of challenge for the team. Off the start, Bari lost position to RedBull’s Marcel Kiefer, and in a sudden change of forecast, the weather completely cleared seven laps in. Boroumand and Idowu both went in one lap later than the optimum point for a gamble on intermediates leading them to lose track position. Both drivers then pitted for a second time but too early - causing them to drop down the table. As a result, China led to a disappointing round, with Josh falling to P12 and Bari at P5.
For the final race of Event One, Boroumand aced it once more in the qualifying, securing P4, making him the strongest average qualifier of the 2021 F1 Esports Series so far. Unfortunately, the mixed weather led to Dani struggling as he failed to get a lap in on drys before the rain commenced - leaving him to finish in P14.
As the race began Dani Moreno pushed into the lead with Jarno while Bari lurked behind in the pack. After a call from Mercedes to alternate their strategy, Moreno fell from P2 to P11, allowing Bari to secure his first podium in F1 Esports after presenting himself to be a solid driver throughout the event.
While Event One was rather disappointing for Bereznay, watching the inter-team competition unfold between him and Idowu will be pretty exciting. Will newcomer Josh have the pace?
Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen F1 Esports
For Alfa, the Bahrain Quali proved to be more difficult than anticipated; a few minor mistakes led to both drivers losing progression in Q2 despite their excellent pace. Thijmen Schutte and Simon Weigang qualified in P18 and P16.
Both decided to head out on medium tyres for the race, leading them to make some excellent progression. By lap 5, Simon fought up the table and slipped into the top ten; after switching to aggressive soft tyres at laps ten and eleven, both drivers felt instant pressure behind, causing Weigang to slip to P12 and an incident with a Haas car meant that Thijmen had to head back to the pits, failing to P18 as a result.
During the Quali, Simon showed strength but missed out on Q3 by 0,005 seconds! Leaving him in P11. Filip Prešjnader pushed hard but, due to a bit of oversteer, prevented him from moving into Q2, so he qualified at P18.
While Prešjnader may have had an unlucky start from qualifying, the Alfa driver clinched his first-ever points on the scoreboard after driving a near-perfect race thanks to strategy and pace. After a promising start from the green lights, Simon managed to find himself coming out of the first bend in P9. But misfortune led to Weigang heading into a spun-out Williams car just before turn three. This led to the Alfa driver entering the pits before he even finished the lap and thus finishing in P19.
Qualifying for both drivers brought no good fortune, as they struggled with track invalidations. Filip found it particularly hard to escape Q1 and found himself placing in P20.
After placing P15 in Q1, Weigang put his foot to the metal; with incredible aggression and planning ahead for a change in the weather, he managed to reach P2 in Q2. In Q3, the rain was still hanging about, but Simon remained focused, grabbing that P7 on the grip. Prešjnader managed to grab P14 and driver of the day during the race, while Weigang held onto P7, scoring some points for Alfa Romeo.
Event 1 of the F1 Esports Series was definitely action packed with plenty of dramatic twists. With 3 different pole sitters and 3 different winners already in the series it seems nothing is predictable! Event 2 is back on Wednesday 27th October as the 12 drivers tackle Silverstone, Monza & Spa-Francorchamps, the event will take place on Twitch!