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Red Bull drivers dominate F1 Esports second round | FOS Future Lab

01st November 2021
Andrew Evans

The Red Bull duo of Frede Rasmussen and Marcel Kiefer completed a clean sweep of the three second-round races in F1 Esports, but it’s defending champion and Mercedes man Jarno Opmeer who holds the championship lead at the halfway point of the season.

Running in the special white livery used by the real team in the Turkish Grand Prix in October, it was Rasmussen making the early running with pole position at Silverstone, 0.05 seconds ahead of Alpine’s Nicolas Longuet, while Opmeer was knocked out in Q2.

The opening exchanges saw the status quo more or less preserved, but some very early pit stops for much of the field would shake up the order. Dani Moreno, Opmeer’s Mercedes team-mate, was the major beneficiary with his slightly earlier stop bringing him between Rasmussen and Lucas Blakeley, passing the Red Bull for the effective race lead soon after.

Moreno almost scored his first F1 Esports win, only to be denied on the last lap. Rasmussen, who had been biding his time, sent a pass around the outside of Stowe Corner to take the lead, leaving Moreno to take second ahead of Blakeley.

Opmeer was back on pole position though at Monza, ahead of the second Red Bull of Kiefer. McLaren’s Bari Boroumand set the early pace though, as the Iranian driver was the only man to start on soft tyres, and hit the front courtesy of a double-DRS overtake on Kiefer and Opmeer at the same time.

While much of the field opted to pit early to change to the soft tyres, Opmeer and Boroumand stayed out, trading the lead. That looked to be a wrong call, with both coming back out of the pits at the tail end of the top ten. That gifted Kiefer a lead he’d never surrender, with team-mate Rasmussen acting as a wingman until the very last lap. Rasmussen was powerless as Moreno and Opmeer both jumped him, and was then tagged by David Tonizza’s Ferrari in the first chicane to slip back to eighth. Moreno would take another second-place, with Opmeer in third.

The action then shifted to Circuit Spa-Francorchamps, and there was another qualifying shock that this time saw both Kiefer and Opmeer eliminated in Q2. Rasmussen though managed a front-row spot alongside his Monza nemesis Tonizza.

With the race starting in the wet it was Rasmussen’s turn for an unorthodox strategy, as the only driver in top ten on intermediate tyres. This brought some early pain, but soon the rest of the front-runners pitted for inters too, promoting Rasmussen into the lead, with team-mate Kiefer behind him and Opmeer in third – all three on their original inters.

The Red Bull man proved untouchable at the front, while Tonizza was the only one of the drivers who stopped that managed to catch up with the front trio, nipping past Kiefer on the last lap at the Bus Stop to take third, after Opmeer had already overtaken the German for second on the final run up the Kemmel Straight.

Opmeer thus remains at the top of the championship table, still 14 points ahead of Lucas Blakeley. Rasmussen and Kiefer jump up into third and fourth respectively, and that also means Red Bull ties Mercedes on points in the teams’ championship on 140 points each - Red Bull has the lead courtesy of three wins to Mercedes’ two.

In the GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Series’ penultimate race, at Barcelona, the two championship leaders, David Tonizza and James Baldwin, qualified on the front row together, separated by 0.02 seconds in Baldwin’s favour.

That would prove to be largely the story of the race. Tonizza made a relatively poor start, but he was soon able to close back up on his title rival soon enough. The two were almost impossible to separate throughout the race – even coming into the pits together – but the Ferrari man couldn’t match the straight line speed of the McLaren and was left with almost no chance to take the lead.

Ultimately Baldwin was able to take a lights-to-flag win, and that result has major consequences for the title. With one race left, at Spa on 12th November, Baldwin has taken the championship lead and now sits two points ahead of Tonizza.

The second race of three in the Americas Endurance Series again saw the PPR Esports team take pole position, this time with the #3 Mercedes of Jordan Grant-Smith, Taha Malih, and Harry Spiers, but again the team couldn’t convert it to a win - coming home second at Monza behind the Kings of Asphalt Aston Martin Vantage of Fidel Moreira, Daniel de Oliveira, and Vinny Oliveira.

Though the PPR squad led for most of the race, it was Moreira that hit the front with the final pit stops, having to pass Chris Severt in the SideMax x Black Hawk McLaren to take the lead. Malih subsequently overtook Severt too, but couldn’t close the gap to the leader.

With two podiums from two, it’s the SideMax x Black Hawk team of Severt, Sam Cairns, and Tinko van der Velde that lead the table from the #3 PPR Esports car by seven points, going into the final race at Laguna Seca.

The three-race Asia Endurance Series got underway, also at Monza, with an extremely close finish that saw KuiSheng Huang and Kelvin Chen of Full Pace Racing win by just 0.2 seconds from Fadhli Rachmat and Avila Bahar in the JMX Phantom team.

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