Premier Sim Gaming League’s PC championship headed to Austria, where it has faced many dramatic moments.
Thomas Ronhaar lost the win here in Season 32 after a collision with Jake Benham, but he got the better of a Mercedes driver this time to claim his first win on F1 23.
The Dutchman fought off rival Jarno Opmeer on the last lap after some epic racing around the Red Bull Ring, with Bari Broumand recovering to claim third.
The returning Joni Tormala was eliminated after he participated in ESL R1. Marcel Kiefer joined the Finn in the drop zone, but the big shock was Lucas Blakeley’s elimination in a similar fashion to his former teammate Bari Broumand the week before. The Scot was blocked by Dani Bereznay, meaning he started last. Jake Benham was serving a qualifying ban and started 19th behind Dylan Warren.
The rain arrived at the beginning of Q2, meaning a one-lap shootout at the end on dry tyres. Both Ferrari drivers failed to get the necessary laps to progress, with championship leader Bari Broumand and Nicolas Longuet being 12th and 14th. Simon Weigang missed out, as did Dani Bereznay and Tom Manley.
Thomas Ronhaar looked unstoppable in Q2, and he continued that into Q3 with a blistering lap to claim his second pole position on F1 23. The Dutch rivalry resumed, with Jarno Opmeer completing the front row. Josh Idowu, a track where he scored his first F1 Esports podium, was third, with Alfie Butcher and the returning Frede Rasmussen in the top five. Luke Smith started sixth, with former Ferrari teammates Fabrizio Donoso and Brendon Leigh on the fourth row. Wilson Hughes and Ruben Pedreno completed the top 10.
There was carnage on the opening lap, with Idowu taking the lead after passing Opmeer and Ronhaar into Turn 3: attempting to retake the lead, Ronhaar dropped to fifth after a trip to the gravel.
Further behind, a collision behind between Leigh, Donoso and Smith ended Tormala’s first race on F1 23 after just five corners bringing out the Safety Car.
Donoso and Leigh boxed for a new front wing, whilst Longuet strategically pitted for mediums.
On the restart, the order stayed similar before the activation of DRS when Butcher claimed the lead from Idowu for a few laps.
Longuet made solid progress and made six overtakes in six laps to put himself just outside the points.
Butcher and Ronhaar pit early on Lap 15 for the hard tyres as the pair attempted to work together to establish a strong lead.
Rasmussen and Opmeer followed the pair into the pits three laps later but were over four seconds behind the R8G pair.
Idowu boxed a lap later but was swamped by the Ferrari duo on mediums leaving the two McLarens at the front of the field.
Blakeley eventually stopped on Lap 22, dropping him to 14th, but with a significant tyre advantage over those ahead for the remainder of the race.
Butcher and Ronhaar were being closed by Rasmussen and Opmeer, who were working together, swapping positions under DRS to close the gap.
On Lap 26, Broumand passed Rasmussen into Turn 3 and closed in on Opmeer, but the Dutchman just scraped DRS off the front two to reconnect the leading train to six cars.
As soon as he got through Turn 1, Opmeer pounced and passed Butcher into Turn 3 and Ronhaar whilst being three-wide into Turn 4 to claim the lead for the first time.
Ronhaar seemed to have a significant advantage in straight-line speed compared to Opmeer’s setup and breezed past the very next lap.
Broumand overtook on Butcher after Rasmussen went far too deep into Turn 3, where he would pick up a 10-second penalty post-race.
All eyes were on the lead battle, with Opmeer sitting behind Ronhaar until the final lap. The two-time F1 Esports champion overtook into Turn 3, but after covering the inside, he locked the front tyre allowing Ronhaar to execute the perfect to reclaim the lead.
Opmeer fended off an attack from Broumand into Turn 4 that gave Ronhaar breathing room to claim his first PSGL win on F1 23.
Alfie Butcher ended up fourth, with Simon Weigang and Wilson Hughes completing the top six.
Jake Benham recovered from his qualifying ban to take seventh, ahead of Brendon Leigh, Josh Idowu, and Dani Bereznay completed the top 10.
Next up, a trip to Suzuka for Round 9 of Season 34.
PSGL Season 34 2023, F1, Round 8, results
- Thomas Ronhaar – Alfa Romeo
- Jarno Opmeer – Mercedes
- Bari Broumand – Ferrari
- Alfie Butcher – Haas
- Simon Weigang – Aston Martin
- Wilson Hughes – McLaren
- Jake Benham – Alpha Tauri
- Brendon Leigh – Alfa Romeo
- Josh Idowu – Red Bull
- Dani Bereznay – Haas