The inaugural race around the Hard Rock Stadium in Premier Sim Gaming League’s top PC league produced incredible wheel-to-wheel racing. McLaren’s impressive form continued with Bari Boroumand taking his second win of Season 31 in Miami after a brilliant battle with his teammate on the final lap.
Frede Rasmussen and Jarno Opmeer returned to the podium after Lucas Blakeley failed to get his penalty removed for cutting one of the trickiest chicanes on the Formula 1 calendar.
PSGL Round 4: Qualifying
Tomek Poradzisz was the shock casualty in Q1 after he failed to set a time on the dry tyres and lined up on the back row of the grid. The 2022 PC Challengers Champion was on the back row with Simon Weigang, who lagged out of qualifying for the second successive week and started last.
Patrik Sipos, Matthijs Van Erven, and Daniele Haddad joined the pair in the elimination zone, with Sebastian Job squeezing through on his PSGL return by 0.014 seconds.
The second part of qualifying proved how close the field is. Thomas Ronhaar, Brendon Leigh, and Marcel Kiefer finished inside the top five in Q1 but were knocked out in Q2 and lined up 11th, 12th, and 15th respectively.
Ronhaar was the big shock after taking the last two pole positions by a considerable margin, but he missed out by 0.011 seconds. Jake Benham and Dani Bereznay joined the trio and lined up on the seventh row together.
The McLarens continued their strong start to F1 22, with their second 1-2 in S31. In Bahrain, Blakeley beat Boroumand by the barest of margins, but the Iranian had the edge this time with a 1:26.006 to take pole position.
Like the opening round, the McLarens had Rasmussen behind in third. The Dane had Josh Idowu next to him on row two, with the returning Opmeer and Ferrari’s Fabrizio Donoso completing the top six.
Job, Wilson Hughes, Alvaro Carreton, and Joni Tormula completed the top 10 positions, with the final pair failing to set representative times on their last run in Q3.
PSGL Round 4: Race
After having wheel issues, Piotr Stachulec replaced Haddad, meaning Poradzisz and Weigang moved up a spot on the grid. Despite free tyre choice for the entire field, everyone started on the hard tyres to switch to the mediums around the midway point of the race other than Patrik Sipos in 16th.
Unlike in Bahrain, the McLaren pair retained their 1-2 off the start, with the top five remaining in the same positions as they started. Further back, Job and Carreton jumped ahead of Donoso and Hughes, respectively.
Behind Hughes, carnage occurred at the end of Sector 1 as the former Mercedes teammates, Brendon Leigh, Dani Bereznay and the second Dutchman in the Mercedes, Thomas Ronhaar, went three wide into Turn 8 and collided causing a gap to emerge between the top nine and the rest of the pack.
Jake Benham and Joni Tormula picked up front wing damage amongst the melee of cars and were out of contention for points on Lap 1.
Leigh picked up sidepod and floor damage in the incident, allowing Poradzisz, Kiefer and Ronhaar to pass the two-time F1 Esports champion.
There was a lack of overtaking in the first stint as drivers struggled to get close through the twisty Sector 1 and the slow speed end to Sector 2, other than Boroumand and Blakeley swapping places for the lead to allow the other to recharge their ERS.
Onto Lap 12, the battle for the final point slipped away for Poradzisz as the Pole was hit in the rear by his Veloce teammate Ronhaar, spinning him around and ending both their hopes of a decent result.
On the next lap, Donoso pulled the pin and entered the pits to try and undercut his way out of seventh place. The Chilean sparked Idowu, who picked up a time penalty in the tricky Sector 2 chicane, and Opmeer to pit at the end of the next lap and cover off the Ferrari driver. With tyre warm-up difficult, Donoso made light work of the pair and moved up into a net fourth place.
Due to the battling at the end of Sector 2, Boroumand and Rasmussen managed to break the DRS on the pack, meaning they were safe whilst warming up their tyres.
Job’s overcut did not pay off, and he slipped out of the DRS of Opmeer and had Hughes and Carreton for company.
Blakeley eventually pitted on Lap 16 and initially came out ahead of Boroumand but was swiftly overtaken by the Iranian at Turn 3. The Red Bull sensed an opportunity to split the McLarens, deployed his ERS and pulled off a sensational move around the outside of the Scotsman into Turn 11 that became the inside of Turn 12 to take second place.
Two laps later, the McLaren got his revenge on Rasmussen, launching it into Turn 1 on the Dane, navigating his way past last season’s F1 Esports runner-up and the Veloce man was back up into second place.
As we approached the closing stages, Opmeer began to cut his way through the pack after saving a large chunk of his battery. The Dutchman sized up Idowu for several laps and eventually got his man around the outside of Turn 11. Up next for the reigning PSGL champion was Donoso, who had a 5-second penalty to serve after the race due to causing a collision last week at Austria, meaning Opmeer ran in a net-fourth.
It swiftly became third after Blakeley cut the inside of Turn 14 and picked up a 3-second time penalty: which was not removed by the stewards after the race.
Neither he nor Boroumand knew that as they entered the final lap in the fight for the race win. The Scotsman recharged his battery and launched an attack on his teammate, but Boroumand fended him off at Turn 11 and 12.
Blakeley stayed close throughout the chicane and had a second chance at overtaking the Iranian into the penultimate corner. Boroumand covered the inside, and there was no way past, meaning the Iranian extended his championship advantage to 11 points from his teammate.
Rasmussen came home in second place and is 16 points off the championship lead. Opmeer’s second podium means he jumps up into fourth place in the standings and sits one point off the Dane.
Hughes had an impressive recovery drive to finish in the top five and claim his second points finish of the season. Josh Idowu finished in sixth after his time penalty, and he was followed over the line by Carreton, Job, Kiefer and Donoso, with his post-race penalty dropping him into tenth.
Spa-Francorchamps is next for Round 5 of PSGL S31, with Blakeley, Rasmussen, and Opmeer looking to eat into Boroumand’s championship lead. The two-time F1 Esports champion has taken the last two victories in Spa after fending off Benham in S29 and F2’s Simon Perigny in S30. Can he make it a hat-trick of wins?
Tune in next Wednesday at 7pm BST on the Premier Sim Gaming League’s YouTube channel to find out.
PSGL Round 4: Race Results
- Bari Boroumand – 43:50.002
- Frede Rasmussen +0.531
- Jarno Opmeer +2.124
- Lucas Blakeley +3.289
- Wilson Hughes +4.153
- Josh Idowu +6.008
- Alvaro Carreton +6.181
- Sebastian Job +6.501
- Marcel Kiefer +7.379
- Fabrizio Donoso +7.611