The new F1 22 game and new regulations were predicted to bring a fresh sense of balance to the field for this year’s F1 Esports Series Pro championship.
Some would argue the more things change, the more they stay the same. Each season of the competition witnessed new winners and in the space of two rounds we found another couple. Thomas Ronhaar and Bardia Boroumand had tasted victory but would they find another chance to do so?
The other major story heading into the sixth round at Zandvoort Circuit was that of Lucas Blakeley’s diminishing points lead. After flying out of the gates with a second victory across the sands of Bahrain, the Scot had been reeled back in over three rounds by the everpresent Frede Rasmussen.
The Formula E: Accelerate double champion was hitting searing form thanks to a win and two podiums in the previous three races.
There was more to shout about for Blakeley in qualifying with a front-row start just reward for excellent one-lap pace.
He could not deny Ronhaar his first pole position, however; the Dutchman completed his rookie ‘to-do’ list for the year at his home circuit. Rasmussen lined up fourth just behind Nicolas Longuet who was quietly going about his work with Alfa Romeo reaping the benefits of his experience.
Race winner in Belgium, Boroumand was brought back down to earth with a three-place grid penalty for blocking a fast lap. The Iranian started from eighth on the grid.
Much like the Red Bull Ring two days prior, the rain bucketed down just in time for the race start. Unlike then, however, such was the intensity that it was a pure tyre choice gamble between the intermediates and wets.
It did not matter much for Ronhaar and Longuet who got tangled up through Tarzan, allowing Blakeley to recover from going deep. The Scot grabbed the lead ahead of a fast-starting Jarno Opmeer and Boroumand.
Rasmussen had opted for the intermediates and was rapidly finding out how wrong he had been in the short term. His launch was sloppy and by the end of the opening lap, he was down to eighth. Such was the chaos that Ronhaar’s teammate, Piotr Stachulec, rose from sixteenth on the grid to fifth.
His rise was sweet yet brief as the young, Polish, driver pitted at the end of the sixth lap along with Longuet for the intermediates. Blakeley responded immediately with Opmeer diving in too. Poor Boroumand, for the second time in three races, was forced around the track another time.
It quickly transpired that Rasmussen’s strategy call was only getting worse. Opmeer exited the pits some three seconds clear of the Red Bull and on fresher rubber. That would count since it would not be until the nineteenth lap before anyone even conceived the idea of heading onto dry tyres.
Tomasz Poradzisz and Sebastian Job were the two guinea pigs but not a single lap had been put down before everyone else agreed with their timing.
Blakeley had pulled such a lead that McLaren Shadow was able to afford the double stack of their two drivers. All were heading onto the medium compound with the exception of Opmeer who went with the more conservative hard compound slick choice. For Ronhaar, the day got worse as Stachulec’s performance forced him into another lap. He would rejoin down in 12th.
With the race leader out of sight, Opmeer was horribly isolated against the advances of Boroumand. With a swift DRS pass, a Shadow 1-2 appeared inevitable. An identical overtake for Rasmussen was just as effortless with the reigning champion off the podium once again.
Stachulec would be involved in late drama as Dani Moreno initiated an overtake that lasted from Tarzen through to Hugenholtz; the Haas driver catching grass and tragically spinning out.
There was no stopping Blakeley, however, as the McLaren driver truly dominated the field by a six-second margin for his third victory of the season.
F1 ESPORTS SERIES PRO 2022, RACE 6 RESULTS
- Lucas Blakeley – McLaren Shadow – 47:03.018
- Bardia Boroumand – McLaren Shadow +6.782
- Frederik Rasmussen – Oracle Red Bull Racing F1 Esports+8.246
- Jarno Opmeer – Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Esports +18.296
- Brendon Leigh – Scuderia Ferrari Velas Esports +18.556
- Dani Moreno – Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Esports +18.852
- Sebastian Job – Scuderia AlphaTauri Esports +19.267
- Thomas Ronhaar – Haas F1 Team Esports +20.070
- Tomasz Poradzisz – Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN Esports +20.753
- Marcel Kiefer – Oracle Red Bull Racing F1 Esports +24.115