Alfa Romeo driver Jarno Opmeer has continued his impressive run of form to extend his championship lead to 27 points with half the season gone in the 2020 F1 Esports Series.
The second round of three races started with an event at Circuit Zandvoort, absent from the real world championship this season but recreated virtually in the F1 2020 game. Despite home advantage, Dutch driver Opmeer had to settle for second on the grid behind Red Bull’s Frederik Rasmussen.
Rasmussen wasn’t able to hold off the championship leader though, with Opmeer quickly making his way to the front. The two kept in close contact throughout much of the race, even matching each other’s pit stops, but it turned out that the Red Bull driver was merely biding his time. With the aid of DRS, Rasmussen used Zandvoort’s final banked corner to get past Opmeer late in the race, and come through to take the win – with Red Bull team-mate Marcel Kiefer in third.
The second race in Canada proved far more controversial. Reigning champion Tonizza took the pole position but, like Rasmussen, quickly surrendered that lead to Opmeer - running his trusty medium-soft race strategy. Tonizza was the first of the two to make a pit stop, emerging into traffic. Opmeer followed suit, but came out behind Tonizza courtesy of the overcut of the fresh soft tyres.
However, as the two fought to catch up to leader Rasmussen – running the opposite tyre strategy – there was a major collision. Opmeer appeared to simply squeeze Tonizza into the outside wall, flipping the Ferrari over, but all was not quite what it seemed. A synchronisation issue, relating to how the players’ computers relay data to each other, meant that Tonizza’s car simply didn’t appear on Opmeer’s screen at all, resulting in no action from the stewards.
That left Opmeer clear to chase down Rasmussen which, in a reverse from the Zandvoort race, he duly did on the penultimate lap to claim his third win of the season. Once again, Kiefer – still Opmeer’s closest title rival – came in third.
The final race of this round took the teams to Austria’s Red Bull Ring, but it was a Williams on pole courtesy of Alvaro Carreton. Opmeer was second, with the Red Bulls of Rasmussen and Kiefer on the second row. With Opmeer slow away on medium tyres, the Red Bulls moved ahead quickly and, working as a team, they were soon able to hit the front.
Although the medium-soft strategy has proven pretty effective for Opmeer so far this season, he wasn’t able to overcome the Red Bulls’ lead. After getting past Renault’s Nicolas Longuet and Carreton’s Williams, he was able to close to within half a second of Rasmussen but simply ran out of laps, allowing Kiefer to claim his first win of the season.
The net result is that Opmeer, with six podium finishes from six races, was able to end the second round of races with a slightly higher points advantage at 27 points. However Red Bull has now taken the lead in the constructor table, by 25 points from Alfa Romeo.
While Ferrari hasn’t been having the best season in F1 Esports, sitting 7th overall on 33 points after numerous connection issues, it’s nonetheless a prestigious outfit to race for. Italian driver Giovanni de Salvo has earned the right to do just that by winning Ferrari’s Hublot Esports Series final.
De Salvo won two of the three races in the live final event to take the title and his place on the team. Arnaud Lacombe had set the early running with a race win at Mugello, but an incident with Kamil Pawlowski at the Nürburgring race saw him effectively knocked out of contention. With De Salvo winning that race, he only needed a podium finish at Monza to claim the title, but sealed it in style with a lights-to-flag win.
Meanwhile Moritz Lohner added the ADAC GT Masters title to his Porsche Esports Carrera Cup championship earlier this year. Britain’s Jack Keithley had a relatively comfortable lead in the championship but stumbled, while Lohner made the best of the double-header finale at the Oschersleben circuit – coinciding with the real-world GT Masters final round.
While not able to take a race win, Lohner closed out the first of the two races in second, behind pole-sitter Jakub Brzezinski, with Kevin Siggy Rebernak in third and Nestor Garcia in fourth. A disappointing 15th place for Keithley meant both Lohner and Garcia passed him in the championship standings.
The title itself came down to the wire, as Siggy, Garcia, and Lohner were locked in a three-car tussle right up to the flag. A win for Garcia would have given the Red Bull driver the title, but he wasn’t able to pass the Slovenian – leaving him just three points behind Lohner in the standings. Keithley still finished in third, behind his Williams team-mate, courtesy of a final race fourth place finish.
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