Approaching the halfway stage of the 2022 Formula 1 Esports Series Pro Championship, it seemed as if a pre-season certainty was becoming less and less of a guarantee.
Two-time, reigning, champion Jarno Opmeer lay on the precipice of becoming (statistically speaking) the most successful F1 Esports driver of all time. All he needed was two more race wins.
By the seventh round at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, his highest finish was second at the Bahrain season opener. In that time, both Thomas Ronhaar and Bardia Boroumandgohar had secured their first-ever victories. More stinging would be the sight of his two 2021 title rivals at least 35 points ahead in the table.
Opmeer himself had labelled the upcoming race as a ‘must win’ to keep his 2022 hopes alive. Those chances were dealt a massive blow by qualifying only 15th of the twenty participants.
Lucas Blakeley, meanwhile, continued to show the pace that had taken him to the position of points leader; the Scot would line up fourth.
Nicolas Longuet had not failed to net at least one pole position following his first full season in at the Renault Vitality team. Despite switching to Alfa Romeo for this year, that streak would continue as he claimed the top spot by almost a full tenth.
Alongside him would be the aforementioned Boroumand whilst directly behind in third would lie Ronhaar.
Following five races of striking the podium, Blakeley’s closest challenger in Rasmussen would have a long race ahead starting from ninth place.
McLaren Shadow’s Iranian got the jump on everyone, sprinting clear out of the Rettifilo chicane thanks to slight contact between Blakeley and Longuet.
Tyre strategies varied wildly for the major players. Boroumand’s start was down to his soft compound pick, Ronhaar cruised up to second by the end of the first lap thanks to his mediums. The majority of the field went with the hard compound, expecting a lengthy DRS train.
The strong pace from the leading Haas was too much for a fading Boroumand to deny. At the dawn of the seventh lap, Ronhaar took the lead down the main straight. Perhaps recognising a terminal decline, the Iranian pitted next time around believing that clean air was preferable to DRS assistance.
Ronhaar and Longuet were next of the contenders to stop, choosing the 11th lap for their fresh set of boots. Despite the advantage of warm rubber and the undercut, the Dutch driver remained ahead.
Meanwhile, the rest of the pack had visited the pitlane with Blakeley suffering the most. An in-form Bereznay had jumped the McLaren before Rasmussen also made a move.
There was a long wait before Boroumand made his play. With tyres a few laps older than Ronhaar’s, the Iranian unleashed his battery at the beginning of Lap 24 – taking to the grass in order to complete his pass for the lead. All chips were bet on defence and it proved to be the right call even into the Rettifilo for the final time as the Haas was escorted across the speed bumps.
However, the McLaren ultimately lost out down the run to Ascari. 2022’s undeniable Rookie of the Year had saved some battery for this moment and reclaimed first position before the braking zone. No further response from the papaya machine left Ronhaar to enjoy his second win of the season. Longuet completed the podium.
Opmeer’s race had never got going after suffering damage on the first lap. It was his second non-score of the year. For Bereznay it was a race of joy and relief; the Hungarian’s first points score since his podium in Brazil two years ago.
F1 ESPORTS SERIES PRO 2022, RACE 7 RESULTS
- Thomas Ronhaar – Haas F1 Team Esports – 37:17.259
- Bardia Boroumand – McLaren Shadow +0.390
- Nicolas Longuet – Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN Esports +7.321
- Daniel Bereznay – Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN Esports +7.755
- Frederik Rasmussen – Oracle Red Bull Racing F1 Esports +7.925
- David Tonizza – Scuderia Ferrari Velas Esports +8.415
- Lucas Blakeley – McLaren Shadow +8.962
- Josh Idowu – Scuderia AlphaTauri Esports +9.359
- Patrick Sipos – Alpine F1 Esports Team +9.612
- Simon Weigang – Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Esports +9.990