The 2022 F1 Esports series is underway | FOS Future Lab
Championship leaders Dillan Tan and Philippa Boquida won their classes at the GT World Challenge Asia finale to earn their maiden titles.
Qualifying for the race at Suzuka had a very familiar look, as Tan out-qualified team-mate and main championship rival Andika Rama Maulana to set an all-Mercedes front row, with Boquida well clear in the Silver category to occupy third. Boquida’s main rival, Marco Wong, could qualify fourth in class but 12th overall.
The lead trio sprinted clear early in the race after Andrew O’Hara and Fadhli Rachmat tangled in the S Curves on lap one, holding up much of the field behind them. That allowed Wong to leap into second in class in a pack led by Pro class driver Ferris Stanley. O’Hara would retire shortly after in an incident at 130R. A huge gap developed between the leaders and the chasing pack, as Stanley, Rachmat, Wong and Moreno Pratama all scrapped over position – and Stanley picked up a five-second penalty after a collision with Rachmat.
Tan though was building space of his own; while Maulana and Boquida were over ten seconds clear by the pit stops, Tan was himself nine seconds further up the road. The young Singaporean took the chequered flag by over 15 seconds to claim a fourth win in five races and his first GT World Challenge championship. Maulana held onto second place, already assured of the runner up spot in the championship, while Rachmat’s fourth in class was enough to claim third in the points standings.
Like Tan, Boquida would claim her fourth class win to comfortably secure the Silver title from Marco Wong – who could only manage a third-place class finish after losing out to Zachary Smith in the pit stops. All six of the Pro and Silver regional champions are now crowned, and the SRO Esports series will conclude with the Intercontinental GT Challenge endurance series finale at the 24 Hours of Spa in October.
The official F1 Esports Series Pro Championship has now got underway, and it’s already looking like a changing of the guard after the first of four race weeks.
Lucas Blakeley, who placed third in 2021, qualified on pole position for the Bahrain race in his new McLaren team having switched from Aston Martin. Team-mate Bari Boroumand was third, with newcomer Thomas Ronhaar a surprise second for Haas. Defending champion Jarno Opmeer made a quick start from fifth to squeeze into a podium spot, then ran long on his first stint to emerge in the net race lead after the stops. However, after scrapping with both McLarens, Opmeer had to settle for second as Blakeley took the win.
Ronhaar sprung another surprise by taking pole position at Imola ahead of Red Bull’s Marcel Kiefer, but was quickly overwhelmed by both Kiefer and Blakeley in the early stages. Blakeley then seized the lead into Tamburello on lap seven. A strong undercut saw Frede Rasmussen close up onto the back of his team-mate after the mid-race pit stops, but the Red Bull duo couldn’t prevent Blakeley from winning his second straight race. Opmeer could only place tenth after being clipped in a spin by Ferrari’s Brendon Leigh on lap one.
Rasmussen’s form improved over the week to take pole in the third race at Silverstone, with Ronhaar again showing great one-lap pace to place third behind AlphaTauri’s Sebastian Job in his best ever F1 qualifying.
Ronhaar beat Job off the line to claim second behind Rasmussen, with Job later losing out to Blakeley as both tried the undercut. However Rasmussen and Ronhaar would hold on to their positions to come home first and second – extending Rasmussen’s record of F1 Esports victories to 11, two more than any other driver.
With the first week completed, Blakeley holds a 21-point lead over Rasmussen, with debutant Ronhaar 14 points further back in third. McLaren leads the teams’ championship by 24 points from Red Bull.
The six drivers who’ll race for the title in Ferrari’s Esports series have booked their places following two regional finals – and some controversial incidents.
In the European region it was Michael Romagnoli, Marcin Swiderek, and Jonathan Riley who qualified with one win a piece. Andrea Miatto was on course to book his spot but was punted from the lead at Imola when Kirill Sadyrov misjudged the entry to Tamburello.
Aloo Gobi was the driver who missed out in the North American section, after a race one clash with Matt Adams at Laguna Seca saw her drop to the back. Brandon Hawkin took both wins from Merick Leveque, with veteran Chris Severt doing just enough to claim the third qualifying spot.
Igor de Oliveira Rodrigues enters the Lamborghini Real Race finals as the lead North and Latin America (NALA) qualifier following a dominant performance in the group stage, taking five wins from the eight races. The USA’s Josh McKean finished runner up, as the top 15 all advance to the finals next month.
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