Less than 24 hours following the dramatic events of Bahrain and China, the F1 Esports Series completed its first trio of 2021 races with a trip to the Red Bull Ring.
The surprise of the show was the emergence of Lucas Blakeley as a genuine contender for race wins, taking his first in the opening round. However, the reigning champion Jarno Opmeer stormed to victory with an incredible strategy call the following race setting up a fascinating process of events on Thursday evening.
The Silver Arrows ruled the roost in Qualifying; Opmeer ahead of Moreno in a front row lockout. After an extremely disappointing start to their Teams’ title defence, Red Bull Racing Esports looked a little more as expected with Freddie Rasmussen P3 and Marcel Kiefer P8.
Bari Broumand’s start to his McLaren Shadow career continued nicely with another visit to the top five in P4 whilst P5-bound Alvaro Carreton would be hoping for another Bahrain-esque podium as opposed to a China-esque retirement.
Championship leader Blakeley would be in the mix from P6.
The tyre-compound spread proved rather minimal across the field with Mediums the way to go. Carreton proved worse off in the opening stages, dropping two positions by Turn 4. By Lap 4, however, he would recover one position to a fast-starting Kiefer.
Daniele Haddad would be the primary casualty, retiring on the first lap. A desperate shame for Aston Martin who have scored more points in 2021 than their entire 2020 total.
Kiefer by this point was carrying suspected damage after a naive lunge on Blakeley and Broumand and continued his backwards trajectory with Tonizza passing the German. Unseen by broadcast direction was a change for the lead, though, as Moreno relinquished Opmeer of first place duties. Suspected team orders soon reversed this.
Chaos was sewn on Lap 10 as droplets of rain hit the circuit. Now out of the top ten and with nothing to lose, Kiefer threw his chips down for some intermediate tyre luck.
The choice was finely balanced with a number more, led by Blakeley, heading pit road bound before Lap 11. The one driver caught out would sadly be Moreno who stayed out to lead while his teammate took his stop. Brutal for the Spaniard who was down to 10th.
Aside from Tonizza picking up a needless time penalty for track excursions, the rest of the race was practically killed off by the lack of DRS and wet conditions. Opmeer would claim his second win in two races in large part down to Moreno’s sacrifices while Rasmussen and Broumand would stand on the podium with him.
The reigning champion locked in his lead in the standings by 14 points whilst the Silver Arrows were unfortunate not to capitalise more in the Teams’.
RED BULL RING RESULTS
- Jarno Opmeer – Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports – 29:04.565
- Frede Rasmussen – Red Bull Racing Esports – +1.130
- Bardia Broumand – McLaren Shadow – +2.032
- Lucas Blakely – Aston Martin Cognizant Esports – +2.850
- Álvaro Carretón – Williams Esports – +7.227
- David Tonizza – FDA Esports – +7.329
- Simon Weigang – Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN F1 Esports – +8.106
- Brendon Leigh – FDA Esports – +8.536
- Nicolas Longuet – Alpine Esports Team – +9.212
- Dani Moreno – Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports – +9.762