Jarno Opmeer takes first F1 Esports wins of the season | FOS Future Lab
Defending F1 Esports champion Jarno Opmeer (Mercedes) scored back-to-back wins to break his winless streak and set up a five-way championship finale.
The week’s action didn’t get off to a great start for Opmeer though, as the Dutch driver made an error in qualifying at Monza – a track at which he claimed pole position in 2021 – to miss out on Q2, starting only 17th. Nicholas Longuet (Alfa Romeo) took pole, claiming his first of the season, ahead of McLaren’s Bari Boroumand.
With most of the grid starting on hard tyres, Boroumand used the softs to hit the front even before the first chicane. Rookie sensation Thomas Ronhaar (Haas) also sneaked up into second using the medium option. As Boroumand’s tyres wore, Ronhaar overtook for the lead and was able to pit far later to take newer hard tyres for his final stint. That would prove crucial as the duo battled for the lead, some seven seconds clear of the pack, with Boroumand hitting the front three laps from the end only to see Ronhaar cruise back past approaching Variante Ascari on the final lap.
It would mean a second win for the Dutch driver in his first season, with Boroumand second and Longuet third. The championship top two – Frede Rasmussen (Red Bull) and Lucas Blakeley (McLaren) – had to settle for fifth and seventh respectively.
Rasmussen was back on form though as the racing moved to Mexico. He extended his own record of pole positions in the series to 15, claiming his fourth of the season. Ronhaar took second, while Opmeer’s best performance of the season saw him start third.
This time Ronhaar went backwards, starting on the hard tyre, as Opmeer, Josh Idowu (AlphaTauri), and Blakeley all streamed past on the medium rubber. The front four held station until the pit stops, as Idowu and Blakeley opted for earlier stops, followed by Rasmussen, and Opmeer pitting last of all – using the overcut to take the lead.
Boroumand and Ronhaar, now on the medium tyres, were carving through the pack and soon passed Rasmussen, who seemed to lose his cool. Clearly feeling he’d been run off the road by Ronhaar at the Ese del Lago chicane – picking up a track limits penalty – Rasmussen dive-bombed the Haas at the same turn on the next lap, scoring another penalty as well as a later grid position penalty for the next round.
Opmeer crossed the finish line over three seconds ahead of Boroumand, claiming his first win – and a first for Mercedes – since the one he took at the same track in 2021. Ronhaar kept third, while Rasmussen’s red mist saw him drop out of the points; with Blakeley claiming a sixth position that could prove vital at the end of the year.
The final round of the triple-header was hosted at the Circuit of the Americas, and it was Ronhaar on pole position ahead of Boroumand for what would turn out to be another wet race.
With everyone starting on full wet tyres, there were few early movements, save for Opmeer passing Marcel Kiefer’s Red Bull. Even after the whole field stopped for intermediates, the race didn’t truly get underway until the final six laps as the dry tyres became viable.
If it had been slow to get started, it erupted in the final lap which saw Boroumand start the lap in first but end it in fourth. An overtake attempt from Ronhaar brought the Haas and McLaren together, and as they tangled Opmeer sneaked into the lead to secure his second win in a row. Boroumand was hung out to dry in it all, allowing Brendon Leigh (Ferrari) to seize third for his first podium finish in two seasons. Rasmussen recovered from his grid penalty to fifth, with Blakeley sixth.
Only one set of three races remains, and Blakeley still holds a slender, 11-point lead over Ronhaar on 132 points to 121. Boroumand is now third, just three points further back, with Rasmussen three more behind and Opmeer now in the title picture again on 110.
Subaru and Toyota will head into the Gran Turismo World Series finals tied on ten points apiece after a second successive victory saw Toyota climb back up the table.
Former Asia-Oceania champion Ryota Kokubun drove the Toyota from a third-place start to victory courtesy of a flipped tyre strategy compared to the cars around him. Starting on the medium rubber, Kokubun only got quicker as the race went on, overtaking pole-sitter Seiya Suzuka (Volkswagen) and race leader Lucas Bonelli (Mercedes) heading into the penultimate lap and sprinting clear to victory.
Championship leader Subaru had a poor race, with Kylian Drumont qualifying just under a second back and in 11th out of 11. Although he did climb to ninth, it was well out of the points.
Toyota and Subaru are now tied on ten points going to the World Final at the end of the month, with Mercedes in third on seven.
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