A first win of the season for Frederik Rasmussen at Silverstone was well-timed and much-needed. The Dane had started his latest F1 Esports Series Pro campaign with disappointment in Bahrain and a podium in Imola.
All the while, Lucas Blakeley was picking up two victories ahead of another podium to back up those strong point hauls at Silverstone.
Of course, the saving grace for the entire grid was that it was only one event which had passed. Realistically speaking, we would only see a true reflection of the championship picture upon the conclusion of the sixth race.
Before reaching that point, two further races had yet to be run; the first of these located at the Red Bull Ring.
As a Red Bull Racing Esports driver, expectations were high for Rasmussen which he met in qualifying.
Pole position was his for the virtual grand prix but only by nine-thousandths of a second. Thomas Ronhaar, undoubtedly the rookie of the season to date, was a genuine threat on the front row.
AlphaTauri welcomed a strong result for Josh Idowu, with the Welshman netting third ahead of his ex-teammate at McLaren Shadow Bardia Boroumand.
The Iranian’s latest teammate and championship leader, Blakeley, would be starting down in a mildly disappointing seventh. Exactly one row behind lay reigning champion Jarno Opmeer, still yet to find the top step of the podium in 2022.
Rain coated the track as the lights went out, throwing up a major variable to navigate.
Intermediate tyres were a no-brainer and many expected the experienced Rasmussen to walk away with the win in these conditions. Shockingly, the Dane made a major error into Ams Ag running deep on the brakes.
This allowed Ronhaar to pull alongside the pole sitter and complete a hugely valuable overtake by the middle sector.
Ten laps in, the downpour halted. This threw up the all-important question of when to pit for slicks. There were a few who dared to test their luck a little early, but for the race leaders, the right time was the 14th lap.
Ronhaar and Rasmussen were joined by everyone in the points-scoring conversation barring Boroumand and Dani Moreno; forced to stay about by virtue of team-mate preference.
On this occasion, neither driver was too hindered although the McLarens found themselves exchanging places due to the cumbersome hard compound warmup phase. Nicolas Longuet found himself as the odd man out, gambling on mediums to the end and jumping the papaya orange duo in the process.
Reigning champion Opmeer was on the move as well. Now up to seventh overall, the Dutchman pounced up Boroumand’s struggles with DRS assistance into Ams Ag. The most successful F1 Esports driver of all time, Brendon Leigh, was watching brief and boldly capitalised on the situation.
Up the road, the battle had been joined once more. Ronhaar was caught napping and Rasmussen claimed first with half the race to run. With the battery yet to deploy, the Dutchman was back for more two laps later. His cause was aided by an eager Longuet who helped ensure that Ronhaar locked down the short-term lead.
Tensions were rising until the penultimate lap when Rasmussen unleashed his battery towards Ams Ag. One of the more obvious plays in the book, it was swiftly countered by Ronhaar who snatched DRS to defend successfully into Rauch. Behind, everything was kicking off. Longuet’s tyres were fading at the worst time and Idowu made such the Frenchman knew it.
With the AlphaTauri through, Blakeley was sizing up his options before Opmeer rocked up to do Opmeer things. The pass of the season was made on his 2022 title rival around the outside of Rindt whilst the Scot was boxed in behind the Alfa Romeo.
Then, the Mercedes blasted past Longuet before the Niki Lauda corner was traversed.
Race of the season, undoubtedly, and sensationally won by a rookie. Ronhaar triumphantly led home Rasmussen and a resurgent Idowu.
F1 Esports Series Pro 2022, Race 4 results
- Thomas Ronhaar – Haas F1 Team Esports +41:50.203
- Frederik Rasmussen – Oracle Red Bull Racing F1 Esports +0.361
- Josh Idowu – Scuderia AlphaTauri Esports +2.842
- Jarno Opmeer – Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Esports +3.179
- Nicolas Longuet – Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN Esports +4.903
- Lucas Blakeley – McLaren Shadow +5.024
- Bardia Boroumand – McLaren Shadow +5.101
- Daniel Moreno – Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Esports +5.324
- Marcel Kiefer – Oracle Red Bull Racing F1 Esports +5.574
- Brendon Leigh – Scuderia Ferrari Velas Esports +7.300