Bari Broumand took the championship lead in Premier Sim Gaming League’s F1 split after a dramatic ending to the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
The Iranian snatched victory away from his Season 28 title rival, Jarno Opmeer, who claimed his first points after issues in the opening race. Dani Bereznay secured a spot on the podium after beating Lucas Blakeley on the line.
In a rainy Q1, the returning Thomas Ronhaar was the big shock after invalidating his final lap to end up 19th. His teammate, Brendon Leigh, could only manage 18th, with Josh Idowu and Istvan Puki narrowly missing out on a spot in the top 15. Dani Moreno would start at the rear of the field.
Alvaro Carreton suffered an in-game issue that caused his AI to retire, meaning only 14 drivers would enter Q2. With a full-dry track, the championship leader Jake Benham missed Q3 by 0.023 seconds. Debutant Jed Norgrove lined up next to the Englishman in 12th, with Marcel Kiefer and Dylan Warren completing the elimination zone.
Into Q3, Bari Broumand took his second-successive pole position by the barest of margins from Fabrizio Donoso – 0.007 seconds. Dani Bereznay lined up third ahead of Lucas Blakeley and his former F1 Esports teammate Shanaka Clay. Tomek Poradzisz ended sixth, with Jarno Opmeer, Patrik Sipos, Tom Manley and Wilson Hughes completing the grid.
Like Zandvoort, there was multiple strategies, with the polesitter and the two Mercedes drivers inside the Top 10 opting for the softs. Benham, Carreton, Leigh and Moreno joined the trio on the red-walled compound, with Manley, Clay, and Norgrove choosing the mediums: the rest of the grid on hards.
As expected, the soft runners at the front made plenty of ground, with Donoso, Bereznay, and Opmeer occupying the top three places at the end of Lap 2. Benham’s progress was halted after a collision with Clay as overtaking proved difficult outside the opening couple of laps in the DRS train.
With Opmeer utilising his battery to try and grab the DRS off the leading pair, he became a sitting duck to those behind as the softs began to drop off in performance. By the end of Lap 9, he had dropped from third to seventh.
Onto Lap 13, Manley boxed hards, but Benham failed to realise his teammate had boxed and ended
up double stacking and losing a heap of time. The following lap, Donoso and Opmeer pit filtering out behind Manley with the undercut looking strong, but sadly for Donoso, the lap spent behind enabled the 2-time F1 Esports champion to get into DRS range.
Leigh had undercut himself into the battle for the lead from 18th on the grid, with Bereznay ending up behind him after stopping just two laps later. The former teammates, Broumand and Blakeley, were working together up front by constantly swapping places to reduce the advantage of the undercut by as much as possible.
The pair eventually stopped on Lap 19 and 20 respectively, and began to easily cut through the field until they approached the leading train. Poradzisz was one to watch after holding to the DRS and pitting a lap earlier, but sadly the Polish driver, an incident with Warren, dropped him to the rear of the field.
A similar situation occurred for Ronhaar, with the Dutchman damaged his front wing after hitting the rear of Norgrove’s Red Bull, ending any chance of points. The advantage of Blakeley reconnected to the train, and whilst it was easy to dispatch Manley, next up was Leigh, who never backs down from a challenge.
The Scot thought he had the move completed around the outside of Turn 4, but Leigh used his battery reserve to go up the inside of Turn 6. Blakeley tried to hang it around the outside, which proved costly as he lost a position to Broumand, who slipped past and into fifth.
The tyre advantage proved too much for Leigh, and he was eventually passed by the pair on Lap 29, with Donoso the next target after Opmeer and Bereznay worked together to pass the Chilean. The Aston Martin proved a difficult obstacle to pass after the pair made contact when overtaking Donoso, which were deemed racing incidents by the stewards.
With two laps to go, Broumand made his move on Bereznay, but the Hungarian’s attempt to hang it around the outside allowed Blakeley to slip past and keep the pressure on his former teammate. Onto the final lap, Broumand was hunting down Opmeer, who had plenty of battery in reserve.
The Dutchman used it as his defence into Turn 4 and managed to hold off the first attack from his former championship rival. The final chance was the run to the line, and the extra tyre grip in the middle sector meant Broumand was way too close for Opmeer to do anything about it, breezing past and taking the victory by just over a tenth of a second.
Bereznay fought back past Blakeley to claim a spot on the podium, with Leigh holding off Clay for sixth. Manley held onto eighth, with Hughes and Benham completing the points after Donoso was reinstated into fifth.
Next up, a trip to Las Vegas for Round 3 of Premier Sim Gaming League top PC tier.
- Bari Broumand – Ferrari
- Jarno Opmeer – Mercedes
- Dani Bereznay – Haas
- Lucas Blakeley – McLaren
- Fabrizio Donoso – Aston Martin
- Brendon Leigh – Alfa Romeo
- Shanaka Clay – Williams
- Tom Manley – Alpha Tauri
- Wilson Hughes – McLaren
- Jake Benham – Alpha Tauri