Shouts of pure relief and joy filled the room where Thomas Ronhaar was situated as he won the fourth of the Formula 1 Esports Series Pro Championship yesterday. His inaugural victory came just four races into his top-tier career.
Lucas Blakeley left the Red Bull Ring still with that all-important championship lead. The Scot would, no doubt, be wary of Frederick Rasmussen’s excellent form, however. With a win and close-run second place in his last two results, the Dane’s championship challenge looked formidable.
That striking pace carried Rasmussen to a third-consecutive pole position around the mighty Spa-Francorchamps. The driver who denied him a second-consecutive win around Red Bull Racing’s home track, Ronhaar, was not too far away either in fourth on the grid.
A known strong qualifier, it was McLaren Shadow’s Bardia Boroumand who lined up alongside Rasmussen on the front row. No win had yet to materialise for the Iranian.
Looking for a second career podium just one race after his first was Josh Idowu. The Welshman started third in Austria and did so once more in Belgium.
Rasmussen reacted well off the line and held off the charging Boroumand down the Kemmel Straight.
Blakeley had chosen to go aggressive with his tyre choice of medium-compound rubber and his selection proved invaluable early on. Swinging around the outside of Les Combes, he remained side-by-side with Ronhaar before completing the move through Bruxelles. The blindsided Dutchman also lost out to Nicolas Longuet.
Blakeley continued to look upward as Idowu entered his targeting range. A failed move through the Chicane only delayed the inevitable as, with DRS assistance, the McLaren Shadow driver sailed by on the Kemmel Straight.
Team-mate Boroumand was next on the list; there was no fighting here with the Iranian leaving plenty of room into La Source on the fifth lap.
Red Bull Racing’s leading driver was a sitting duck the next time around and he knew it. He also knew that the championship pace setter was due in sooner rather than later. This transpired to be the case just two laps on as Blakeley pulled in for a new, firmer set of rubber.
His colleague was making moves of his own on the ninth lap, finally passing pole-sitter Rasmussen himself. By this point, others were looking to throw the strategy game dice with an early pitstop.
This included the likes of Sebastian Job and two-time champion Jarno Opmeer; mired in the midfield thanks to so-so qualifying laps. It could be argued that these early chancers forced the hand of those further up the order.
Certainly, Boroumand, Idowu and Longuet reacted quickly while Rasmussen continued on his merry way. The mood was not so merry after he pitted one lap after, seeing the fast-rising Job fly past him on rejoin.
Meanwhile, the Shadows exchanged positions once again. Boroumand was loving life on the mediums whilst the objective for Blakeley, at this stage, was damage limitation.
The saving grace for Rasmussen was that neither McLaren could pull away from the pack; Blakeley because of his tyre disadvantage and Boroumand because of his team requirement to feed DRS to the Scot. The Dane then struck early against Job, using a bit of battery to aid his cause.
Two bites of the cherry were needed, but soon enough Rasmussen was through on Blakeley as well. The pain was not over just yet for the championship leader. Idowu had passed his teammate on the 18th lap and the following rotation he made short work of the struggling McLaren.
For the second day running, Rasmussen found himself tenths away from a win. Yet, for the second day running, a driver who had yet to find a win in his career managed to fend off the experienced threat. Boroumand finally tasted victory.
F1 ESPORTS SERIES PRO 2022, RACE 5 RESULTS
- Bardia Boroumand – McLaren Shadow – +39:10.639
- Frederik Rasmussen – Oracle Red Bull Racing F1 Esports +0.153
- Josh Idowu – Scuderia AlphaTauri Esports +0.936
- Lucas Blakeley – McLaren Shadow +1.672
- Sebastian Job – Scuderia AlphaTauri Esports +2.571
- Jarno Opmeer – Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Esports +2.959
- Thomas Ronhaar – Haas F1 Team Esports +3.399
- Nicolas Longuet – Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN Esports +4.159
- David Tonizza – Scuderia Ferrari Velas Esports +4.741
- Simon Weigang – Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Esports +5.076