The Circuit of the Americas came under criticism this week due to having a bumpy surface and the part the track played in Sebastian Vettel’s retirement from the USA Grand Prix. There are many who claim such comments of track surface show the drivers would prefer smooth tracks as found on the simulator. Therefore, it is somewhat fitting that the penultimate round of the New Balance F1 Esports Series took place on Wednesday evening a mere three days after the events of Austin. Ferrari Driver Academy’s David Tonizza continued the consistent point scoring form shown back in October and extended his lead in the drivers’ standings. Meanwhile, Red Bull Racing Esport’s established a 35-point lead at the top of the standings.
In the real world, much has been written of Scuderia Ferrari’s Team Principal Mattia Binotto and Red Bull Racing’s Christian Horner’s ‘conversation’ following the events in Austin. So, it is somewhat poetic that these two teams of the Esports nature are battling at the top. Despite Lewis Hamilton having retained his F1 title for Mercedes the same cannot be said of Brendon Leigh who was looking for a hat trick of Esports Series wins when the season begun. Despite currently being some 90 points behind David Tonizza the contribution made by the talented Brit will not be forgotten and his dominance, form and personality over the last two years is a huge reason for the success the F1 Esports series is now experiencing.
While much has also been written of the decreasing numbers viewing F1 races the same cannot be said of the ratings for the Esports series of F1 racing. Every Esports race meet features three events and last night we saw the pixelated pinnacles of motorsport navigate their way around Germany, Belgium and Italy. Such different tracks would inevitably lead to unpredictable races and this is yet another reason why so many tuned into watch it on YouTube, twitch or keep track of events using social media.
So, to race 1 of the night (and race 7 of the series) and the dullest of the three due to the fact that strategical calls made the difference rather than wheel to wheel racing. Modern F1 is also being faced with similar criticism showing how such complaints can be directed to the virtual world too. Jarno Opmeer’s decision to run a different tyre compound to the rest was the decisive factor. Having started on medium tyres, he was able to overtake Championship leader David Tonizza with ease as the race drew to a close due to a superior pace advantage and he followed this by claiming the lead shortly after and having passed then-leader Joni Tormala could not be caught. Such a strategical call brought Opmeer his first win in the F1 Eseries.
Next on the schedule was a trip to Spa-Francorchamps, a circuit which in the real world of F1 always produces an enjoyable contest and so it proved to be in the virtual world too. One of the main successes of the F1 Esports series has been from the commentary on social media and no one described the events of Belgium better than those reported at f1.com
‘Frederik Rasmussen passed Alfa Romeo F1 Esports’ Daniel Bereznay down the Kemmel straight to take the lead on the first lap and stayed ahead after pitting a lap earlier than the Hungarian. Bereznay continued to push hard for the lead throughout and, on the final lap with the assistance of DRS, finally took first place. Rasmussen tried everything to retake the position in a thrilling battle, but it was Bereznay who took the chequered flag for Alfa Romeo’s first victory of the season.’
The final race of the evening was the Italian Grand Prix but Ferrari Driver Academy’s David Tonizza could not replicate the success Charles Leclerc displayed for the prancing horse and instead had to settle for 3rd…but with it more crucial championship points. Tonizza has now opened up a 26-point lead on Frederik Rasmussen due to the fact his closest rival in the standings finished outside the points in Italy having picked up damage on the opening lap which destroyed his race. As for the race winner, that honour went to Daniel Bereznay picking up his second win of the night. With this form from the Hungarian, Tonizza may be quite relieved to find him 53 points behind him in the table.
All that remains now is one more New Balance F1 Esports Series event of the 2019 season and with the title sewn up by Lewis Hamilton in the real world – these virtual on track battles are well worth your time. Streaming across a variety of platforms on December 4th will be the culmination of the series at the Gfinity Esports Arena in London. On this evening, the teams’ and drivers’ championship will be claimed.
The 2020 F1 Esports series event will be bigger than ever and you can be sure that the name on many lips then will be that of Frederik Rasmussen.