PSGL F1 PC S32: Puki defies odds to win at Spa

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Istvan Puki took a debut PSGL victory at the Belgian circuit, in a dramatic wet-dry-wet race featuring two safety cars.
PSGL F1 PC S32 - Puki defies odds to win at Spa

With the current F1 game nearing the end of its life, it allows upcoming drivers to fight against F1 Esports drivers and impress teams leading to potential development roles for F1 23: one of the drivers is Istvan Puki.

The Hungarian took a shock victory in World Online Racing on Sunday and followed that up with a maiden win in Premier Sim Gaming Leagues this week at the Belgian venue. 

Further shocks saw 13-year-old Cameron Dowds finish on the podium after the pair nailed the strategy after pitting onto dry tyres during the Safety Car period. 

Bari Boroumand fought back to take second but picked up a time penalty for a collision with title rival Thomas Ronhaar, giving Duncan Hofland a podium after getting his track-limit penalties removed. 

QUALIFYING

A huge shock in the opening session saw Nicolas Longuet be eliminated after opting not to go out on a second set of tyres: the Frenchman getting knocked out by a thousandth of a second with Jarno Opmeer scraping through in 15th.

Harvey Cowan, Filip Presnajder, Daniel Kuijer, and F1 debutant Cameron Dowds joined the Ferrari F1 Esports driver in the elimination zone. 

In Q2, the two-time F1 Esports champion was on the wrong side of the red line, ending up in 11th. Otis Lawrence narrowly missed out on Q3 and joined Opmeer on the sixth row. Duncan Hofland, Can Akinci, and Patrik Sipos completed the spots in the Q2 drop zone. 

As usual, Bari Boroumand and Thomas Ronhaar battled it out for pole position, with the Dutchman getting the better of the Iranian. 

Wilson Hughes secured his best qualifying of Season 32 with third, pipping Jake Benham, whose championship charge had taken a turn for the worse in recent races, in fourth. 

Istvan Puki started in the top five, ahead of Luke Smith, Alvaro Carreton, and Ismael Fassi. Fabrizio Donoso and Dani Bereznay completed the grid after failing to show their pace in Q3. 

RACE

With rain looming, Benham started on the medium compound slick tyre and dispatched Hughes off the start, and his sights switched to the top two after Ronhaar fended off Boroumand at Turn 5.

There was carnage behind the top four between Smith, Carreton, Fassi and Puki, with the Hungarian losing three places off the start. The Williams driver and Nicolas Longuet joined Benham on the mediums, hoping the rain would arrive earlier than expected.

PSGL F1 PC S32 - Ronhaar leads

Longuet made up five spots, but all eyes were on his teammate Boroumand, who was attacking Ronhaar to defend from Benham. Into Turn 1, the Mercedes driver sent it on the pair, got the car stopped, and took the race lead.

The lead was short-lived for Benham after the Englishman spun at Stavelot, dropping him to the back of the field.

PSGL F1 PC S32 - Jake Benham spins from lead

Both Ferrari drivers were moving up the field. Boroumand passed Ronhaar for the lead, and his teammate moved into seventh after passing Puki and his former F1 Esports teammates, Donoso and Bereznay.

The rain arrived on the seventh lap, but it was heartbreak for Boroumand, who got jumped in the pits by Ronhaar, gifting his rival the race lead. Four laps later, the race turned on its head after Akinci crashed at the start of Sector 3, bringing out the safety car.

With rain expected to stop within the next few minutes, Puki, Dowds, Presnajder, Hofland, Sipos, Kuijer and Opmeer entered the pits and went onto the mediums, hoping it would turn to dry conditions quickly.

After two laps behind the safety car, there was no sign of it drying up, so Opmeer opted to pit again onto the intermediates, dropping him to the rear of the field.

Just one lap later, the rain stopped, and the track began to dry, causing all the leaders to pit, giving Puki the lead of the race, followed by Dowds, Lawrence, Sipos, Opmeer, Presnajder, Holfand, Ronhaar, Boroumand, and Hughes completing the top 10.

PSGL F1 PC S32 - Rain behind safety car

Dowds was a brilliant roadblock for Puki at the restart, who broke a second almost instantly.

Lawrence and Opmeer struggled for grip and slowly drifted down the field on the restart. With the latter in a championship fight against Ronhaar and Boroumand, he fought the pair in an attempt for them to lose as much ground as possible.

It was a little too hard for the stewards liking, with Opmeer picking up a post-race penalty for forcing Ronhaar off the track.

That was the least of Haas’ worries after he was attacked by Boroumand at Turn 5 and spun by his championship rival to the rear of the field. It seemingly ended his chance of points until Lawrence brought out a safety car with a big crash at Pouhon, giving those on intermediates a chance to pit for softs.

PSGL F1 PC S32 - Otis Lawrence crash

There were just two laps left of racing, and Puki once again got the perfect launch to give him a buffer to those behind. Sipos tried to get past Dowds into Turn 5 but was spun around by the debutant, dropping him out of the points.

One lap to go, Presnajder was the next to attack Dowds, and he produced a brilliant move around the outside of the 13-year-old to take second place. After trying to re-overtake the Alpine driver, Hofland and Boroumand overtook Dowds dropping him into fifth, with a podium now looking highly unlikely.

However, Presnajder spun at the start of Sector 3, ruining all his hard work and strategy, with Hofland inheriting second place.

Whilst the carnage occurred behind, Puki was over three seconds clear of the pack and stormed to his maiden PSGL victory against some of the best drivers on F1 22.

PSGL F1 PC S32 - Filip Presnajder spins

Hofland got his penalties removed to take second, with Dowds getting promoted to third after Boroumand’s penalty for his collision with Ronhaar dropped him to tenth. Fassi and Smith completed the top five after fending off Hughes at the final chicane. Kuijer came home to finish seventh after avoiding a penalty for a punt-to-pass on Carreton.

Ronhaar extended his points advantage at the top after coming home in ninth place. Next up, a trip to Paul Ricard in France for Round 8.

SEASON 32 PREMIER SIM GAMING LEAGUE PC F1 CHAMPIONSHIP: ROUND 7 RESULTS

  1. Istvan Puki – Haas
  2. Duncan Hofland – Aston Martin
  3. Cameron Dowds – Williams
  4. Ismael Fassi – Alfa Romeo
  5. Luke Smith – Alpine
  6. Wilson Hughes – McLaren
  7. Daniel Kuijer – Red Bull
  8. Alvaro Carreton – Williams
  9. Thomas Ronhaar – Haas
  10. Bari Boroumand – Ferrari
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