After a long, multi-phase process, the Ferrari Esports Series 2021 Grand Finals were finally here. Three races formed a mini-championship with the best 24 drivers of the competition pitted against each other in cars voted on by the Ferrari community. The 488 Challenge Evo would be used in the first and last rounds at Imola and Mugello respectively with the FXX-K filling the gap at Barcelona.
Realistically, unless there was a huge change in form, few were actually considered in the hunt for the elusive Ferrari Driver Academy Esports contract prize. From Group A, Isaac Price, Kamil Pawlowski and Danilo Santoro were surely looking at Arnaud Lacombe and Maxime Batifoulier from Group B as their primary competition.
Incredibly it was Leonardo D’Alcamo, the final Group B winner in the absence of Lacombe and Batifoulier, who stole the pole by eight thousandths of a second from Pawlowski. Lacombe himself would line up third ahead of Price who had been without a team since leaving Williams Esports. Batifoulier and Santoro made up the third row of the grid.
Drama ignited immediately as off the line Pawlowski got up to speed quicker and grabbed the lead. Behind, Price and Lacombe came into contact through Tamburello leaving the Frenchman in a spin and potentially ruling out his hopes just seconds into the event. Outsider threat Maichol Tonizza benefitted most, slipping past Santoro into fifth.
Santoro would get his revenge a couple of laps later with a late lunge down into Rivazza, cleverly acting as Tonizza’s tour guide to the track’s edge.
With just ten minutes to go, Lacombe had impressively fought his way back up to 11th. Sadly for him, both Jonathan Riley and Joni Katila were understandably eager not to lose their points haul and held up the Frenchman massively. Though he finally claimed eighth, it came at the cost of no more time to improve.
As this was happening, luck was pulled out from underneath the wheels of D’Alcamo who disconnected from second place in heart-breaking fashion. After such a strong race, his dreams were almost certainly over at this point.
So, Pawlowski would pick up the first win of the evening but not ahead of Price once the stewards had reviewed the first lap incident. The Brit was demoted to seventh leaving Batifoulier and Santoro to fill out the rest of the podium.
- Kamil Pawlowski – 30:05.952
- Maxime Batifoulier – +4.643
- Danilo Santoro – +5.573
- Maichol Tonizza – +12.355
- Josh Martin – +13.877
- Adrian Kot – +15.311
- Isaac Price* – +16.520
- Arnaud Lacombe – +21.679
- Joni Katila – +22.323
- Jonathan Riley – +23.176
*After post-race penalty
It was surely a play of fate to find Lacombe and Price on the front row of the grid for the second race, the former taking pole position in this case. Points leader Pawlowski started third ahead of D’Alcamo, who needed a miracle to recover his points loss. Santoro and Batifoulier would surely have been disappointed to start down in sixth and seventh respectively.
Pawlowski stormed off the line enabling him to swing around the outside of both Lacombe and Price at Turn 1 who had switched positions. Simply put, the night would continue to go downhill for the pole-sitter, who found himself checking up on Price’s conservative braking the following lap, before being rear-ended by a surprised D’Alcamo.
It wasn’t quite as bad as the previous race, with 15th now his position, but a few corners later he had retired of his own accord. Nobody could blame him.
Though the rest of the race was a little dull, barring some midfield chaos and Batifoulier finally passing Tonizza for sixth, there was still one further twist in this chapter of the tale. With the lion’s share of eight minutes remaining, Price sent it on the race leader who had gone deep into La Caixa. With the lead secured, the Brit did not look back.
Had it not been for a mistake, Pawlowski might very well have lost second to D’Alcamo as well. His survival ensured that he was in the pound seat for Mugello.
- Isaac Price – 31:16.644
- Kamil Pawlowski – +3.139
- Leonardo D’Alcamo – +3.836
- Adrian Kot – +9.382
- Danilo Santoro – +12.500
- Maxime Batifoulier – +13.089
- Maichol Tonizza- +23.403
- Umberto Principi – +27.6.81
- Josh Martin* – +30.408
- Jonathan Riley – +40.712
*After post-race penalty
With all his main rivals dropping serious points in at least one of the races, Pawlowski was sitting pretty on pole position for the final showdown at Mugello. Though Price sat alongside the young Pole, he’d need a serious slice of luck in the form of misfortune for the only driver ahead of him on the road.
Lacombe did not start the race.
Once again Pawlowski’s start was flawless. Price was able to hold onto secondbut was heavily challenged by D’Alcamo who was caught out on the outside of Materassi, ceding position to Santoro. The numbers game was very clear from here on out – if Pawlowski finished on the podium he was a Ferrari Driver Academy Esports driver.
The pace differential was crushing for Price as every single lap Pawlowski managed to find a tenth or two. By halfway, the lead gap was near enough to three seconds, as Price had to deal with the pressure of Santoro and D’Alcamo behind.
Mugello was never going to be a barnstormer in the way of overtaking and so it proved to be. Pawlowski continued to open up the gap whilst Price was stuck in the mire pacewise. In tears before he had even crossed the line, the young Polish prodigy completed a dominant performance to become the Ferrari Esports Series 2021 champion.
Batifoulier and Alessandro Miraglia, who both crossed the line in the points, were stripped of them following post-race penalties.
- Kamil Pawlowski – 30:10.468
- Isaac Price – +5.031
- Danilo Santoro – +5.927
- Leonardo D’Alcamo – +7.139
- Joni Katila – +12.375
- Leonardo Pagano – +21.643
- Josh Martin – +26.184
- Umberto Principi – +29.851
- Maichol Tonizza* – +30.360
- Adrian Kot – +30.418
*After post-race penalty