Bari Boroumand claimed his fourth opening race win in Premier Sim Gaming League’s top PC split in five attempts after an enthralling start to the season down under.
The Iranian held off a charging Thomas Ronhaar, who went beyond the limits too many times on the final lap, picking up a three-second penalty, dropping him down to seventh.
The two dominant forces on Xbox and PlayStation back in F1 2020, Jake Benham and Wilson Hughes, benefited from the 2022 F1 Esports Rookie of the Year’s error to claim the other two spots on the podium.
Rain in the early stages of Q1 meant a one-shot qualifying to get into Q2 on dry tyres. The Alpine pair of Luke Smith and Filip Presnajder were joined in the drop zone by Fabrizio Donoso, Duncan Hofland and former PSGL PlayStation champion Joost Noordijk.
The sun remained for the rest of qualifying, with the young guns putting some pressure on the F1 Esports drivers. 2022 Xbox Challengers champion Tom Manley and second in PSGL F2 Will Lewis got into Q3 and knocked out some big hitters like Josh Idowu, Alvaro Carreton, Dani Bereznay and Marcel Kiefer. The current PSGL F2 leader, Ismael Fassi, nearly knocked out four-time PSGL champion Jarno Opmeer, who scraped through in tenth place.
Into Q3, Boroumand continued the pace he had shown all session with an incredible lap to take pole position by over a tenth. Three former World Online Racing Xbox champions followed, with Thomas Ronhaar lining up alongside the Iranian on the front row.
Tom Manley’s impressive debut continued with third, and he had Jake Benham alongside him on the second row. Three PSGL PlayStation veterans followed, with two-time champion Wilson Hughes fifth, Matthijs van Erven sixth and Will Lewis showing what he is capable of in seventh.
Ruben Pedreno, Jarno Opmeer, and John Evans completed a tantalising grid for the opening race of the season.
The right side of the grid at the front got better starts, meaning Ronhaar took the lead into Turn 1 ahead of Boroumand, with Benham getting ahead of Manley into the final podium spot.
Ismael Fassi had an incredible launch, making up five spots into sixth behind Hughes. His F2 title rival Lewis had some technical issues, forcing him to retire.
Opmeer had moved up one spot off the start and got ahead of his fellow Dutchman, van Erven when he went off the circuit at Turn 3.
With everyone opting for the hard tyres, wheel-to-wheel racing was limited around Albert Park: the only overtake inside the top 10 was a simple DRS move from Boroumand on Ronhaar for the lead on Lap 6.
At the midway point, van Erven, Evans and Idowu pulled the pin and attempted an undercut on the cars ahead. Hughes and Fassi covered off the trio and managed to hold position despite being under pressure on colder tyres.
The duo managed to warm up his tyres and produced brilliant out-laps to get ahead of Manley, who pitted one lap too late to hold onto fourth.
Ronhaar and Benham pitted the same lap as Manley to get ahead of Boroumand, and the Iranian covered off the pair on Lap 17.
Ronhaar and Boroumand were side-by-side on the pit exit, but the Dutchman got the switchback into Turn 1 to retake the lead. It was Benham’s best opportunity to pass the McLaren, as he had DRS from Ronhaar. The Englishman attempted a move into Turn 3, but Ronhaar was defending the inside, so he could not brake as late as he’d have liked to get into second.
The top three remained the same until the first piece of drama on Lap 23. Boroumand attempted a similar move into Turn 11 as he did on Lap 6, and the pair went wheel-to-wheel through Sector 3 before slight contact, which enabled Benham to get significantly closer.
Boroumand got the move done on Ronhaar, but the Dutchman had the DRS and ERS to defend into Turn 1 from Benham.
Opmeer, who lost his PSGL and F1 Esports title to Lucas Blakeley into 2022, pitted the same lap as Boroumand, and had fresher tyres than those ahead and got a brilliant run through the chicane on his fellow Dutchman, van Erven.
The two-time F1 Esports Series Pro champion produced a stunning move around the outside of Turn 11 and 12 to take seventh: the first on-track overtake inside the top 10 outside of the leading battle.
Approaching the final stages, the front three had all saved up their ERS, but Ronhaar could not get close enough to make a move. In an attempt at one final lunge, he extended track limits at Turn 10, giving him a three-second penalty, which demoted him five places.
The penalty meant Boroumand could relax for the final few corners, and he took his fourth PSGL win on F1 22. Benham claimed his first podium in 17 races, with Hughes joining his McLaren Shadow teammate on the podium.
Fassi produced a Driver of the Day performance with 11th to fourth, beating debutant Manley in fifth and Opmeer in sixth. Ronhaar slipped to seventh but ahead of his F1 Esports teammate van Erven, Bereznay and Idowu, who completed the points.
Next week, PSGL F1 heads to Abu Dhabi for Round 2 of Season 32.
SEASON 32 PREMIER SIM GAMING LEAGUE PC F1 CHAMPIONSHIP: ROUND 1 RESULTS
- Bari Boroumand – McLaren – 29 laps
- Jake Benham– Mercedes +0.771
- Wilson Hughes– McLaren +1.306
- Ismael Fassi – Alfa Romeo +1.973
- Tom Manley – Alpha Tauri +2.494
- Jarno Opmeer – Mercedes +3.183
- Thomas Ronhaar – Haas +3.353
- Matthijs van Erven – Haas +6.158
- Dani Bereznay – Alfa Romeo +12.156
- Josh Idowu – Red Bull +13.775