Scotsman Lucas Blakeley took another step towards claiming the 2022 F1 Esports Series Pro with a win at Interlagos.
One down, four to go. Jarno Opmeer might have become the most successful Formula 1 Esports driver of all time in 2022, but records would not save him from yet another torrid result in Japan. With the Dutchman ruled out all but mathematically, this left just Bardia Boroumand, Frederick Rasmussen and Thomas Ronhaar with the job of chasing down Lucas Blakeley.
One of Scotland’s finest sim racers, alongside Iranian teammate Boroumand, had already tucked away McLaren Shadow’s first-ever Teams’ championship. Many of their expected rivals, namely Oracle Red Bull Racing and Mercedes-AMG F1 Esports, simply had not delivered with both drivers to such a high degree.
As if to rubber stamp their intent, McLaren went and secured a front-row lockout for Round 11 at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace, also known as Interlagos. Blakeley nipped into pole ahead of Boroumand by just five-thousandths of a second but would be kept in check by fourth-placed Rasmussen.
After an encouraging showing at Suzuka, Fabrizio Donoso put a Ferrari in amongst the top four with a lap good enough for third on the grid. Ronhaar, extraordinarily, would have been on the front row had it not been for a grid penalty demoting him to fifth. Last race winner Nicolas Longuet looked to maintain his good form from seventh.
With Interlagos’s tarmac soaked, Intermediate tyres were the way to go with only light rain in the skies above. Blakeley started well to fend off Boroumand and while those below the top ten entered a rabid dogfight, those in the points remained largely static.
The lack of DRS in this first phase of the race sadly did not bode well for an entertaining spectacle. Drivers were rightly more focused on saving tyres than moving up the order. Signs of life finally emerged in the lower midfield as some chose to gamble on dry tyres around lap 14.
This was the signal for Rasmussen to strike. His earlier caution thrown to the wind, Donoso was behind the Dane heading onto Lap 15. Behind, Ronhaar, Dani Bereznay and Opmeer all blinked. Heading into the pits, medium tyres were the order of the day thanks to their stronger grip and warm-up stint.
Blakeley dived in one lap later, forced to respond just in case. This left Boroumand out to run one more lap in conditions continually falling away from his car. Although the order from before the pitstops persisted at the outset, Ronhaar’s tyres were toasty and propelled him to pass Donoso around the outside of Ferradura.
For the second time in two races, a rogue backmarker changed the face of the lead battle. Blakeley cruised past Luke Smith, still on intermediates, prior to Descida do Lago, while his teammate struggled through the rest of the lap.
After finally muscling his way through, the Iranian was shocked to find Smith not only continuing to stay out but providing a monster tow to Rasmussen. It was an advantage the Dane did not spurn.
Boroumand’s title charge hung in the balance. As he managed to get one back against Rasmussen, Ronhaar was starting to stutter. In quick succession, both Donoso and Longuet were through before the Frenchman went one better to nab fourth.
There was one more pass to come, Rasmussen having the last laugh against Boroumand, but Blakeley’s lead remained imperious. He took yet another victory in 2022 leaving his points advantage almost unassailable heading to the final round at Abu Dhabi.
2022 F1 ESPORTS SERIES PRO CHAMPIONSHIP: ROUND 11 RESULTS
- Lucas Blakeley – McLaren Shadow – 43:53.106
- Frederik Rasmussen – Oracle Red Bull Racing F1 Esports – +1.807
- Bardia Boroumand – McLaren Shadow – +2.272
- Nicolas Longuet – Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN Esports – +8.769
- Fabrizio Donoso – Scuderia Ferrari Velas Esports – +9.059
- Thomas Ronhaar – Haas F1 Team Esports – +9.569
- Daniel Bereznay – Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN Esports – +9.880
- Jarno Opmeer – Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Esports – +9.961
- Jake Benham – Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Esports – +10.355
- Sebastian Job – Scuderia AlphaTauri Esports – +11.683