2019’s Formula 1 Championship may have been decided several weeks ago following Lewis Hamilton’s 2nd place position back in Austin at the start of November but it was not until last night that we learnt who the victors of the different categories of the 2019 F1 New Balance Esports Pro Series would be.
Having won the previous two seasons of the F1 Esports series, Britain’s Brendon Leigh had no chance of retaining his title for Mercedes. Despite having so much success in the real world in 2019, the virtual world did not bring triumph for the German giants of motorsport. Although, the first race of the night set at a virtual Suzuka circuit showed why Leigh will still be a worthy contender in 2020. Despite his qualifying pace letting him down, as so often has been the case this season, Leigh showed he is still one of the best on track over-takers by leaping from 13th on the grid to 7th in the opening lap – due to three superb passing moves and other racers opting for opening lap pit stops.
You can be sure Brendon Leigh will be eager to bounce back in 2020 just like Sebastian Vettel would be following his turbulent season. Although Scuderia Ferrari have made many strategical errors from the pit wall of many circuits this year, the same cannot be said of David Tonizza who was the strong favourite going into the final round of races hoping to bring the Ferrari Driver Academy their first esports series title in their first season of racing.
Throughout 2019, following consistent point scoring and some excellent victories, the 2019 F1 New Balance Esports Pro Series title looked to be almost a foregone conclusion with David Tonizza having opened up a 26-point lead on Frederik Rasmussen his nearest rival ahead of the first of three races at the final event. However, with Rasmussen claiming victory in the first race of the night and Tonizza finishing in 5th there was an early scare for the much-admired Italian.
David Tonizza is admired by many because in 2018, despite feeling ready for the Pro Draft and being eligible he was not chosen by a team. Now, in 2019 he was the favourite for the title. Clearly, whether in the real world or virtual world a lot can happen in the space of a year.
So too did a lot happen in the second race of the night which saw David Tonizza replaced at the top of the leaderboard. Lewis Hamilton claimed his 6th world title at the Circuit of the Americas and by the conclusion of this race David Tonizza was left contemplating if he had lost his chance of the title at the same circuit due to the fact that Frederik Rasmussen claimed his second win of the night.
This virtual victory in Austin brought a large enough haul of points to secure the Teams’ Championship for Red Bull irrespective of the results of the third race. Frederik Rasmussen also found himself ahead of David Tonizza by 4 points – it would all come down to the final race of the night to decide the Drivers’ Championship.
The evening was certain to crown a new champion and this would be done at a new circuit for the esports series…but a classic in the world of F1 - Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil!
David Tonizza made a great start maintaining his lead into the first corner but was not in front by the time the chequered flag fell but was…the 2019 F1 New Balance Esports Series Champion. This title was due to the fact everything that could go wrong for Frederik Rasmussen did go wrong and he had to settle for 10th place and a single championship point in comparison to Tonizza’s 18.
Having been 4 points behind, The Ferrari Driver Academy racer concluded the championship at the top with a lead of 13 points. Whether in the real world or virtual world – sport can be cruel at times.
A lot of publicity went into this 2019 season and the Grand Final held at the Gfinity Esports Arena in London did not disappoint the crowd in attendance or the hundreds of thousands of people viewing the event being streamed live. The live Grand Final was streamed online via Facebook, YouTube, Twitch and Huya. Not only this though, such was the demand of the event that it was also broadcasted globally in selected European countries as well as Australia and the USA.
All signs show that 2020 will be an even bigger year for the esports series as more advertisers are jumping on board the virtual bandwagon and more contenders emerge as genuine title contenders.
From 109,000 competitors, David Tonizza rose to the very top and what a season it was for him to do so.
Bring on 2020!