Formula E and esports has had something of a changing relationship over the years. We’ll delve a little more into that particular topic in a later feature, but Friday 29th July saw the ‘Accelerate’ name return to screens. The multi-round championship held in 2021 was largely considered a success as Frede Rasmussen saw off a spirited Erhan Jajovski to become the competition’s first title winner.
Come March 2022, however, a radical change in format to Accelerate was announced sending Formula E’s official esports representation back to its roots. Following pre-qualifying time trials, the 2022 Accelerate champion would be named at the ExCeL, London – the location of the real-world London E-Prix. One event to win it all, much like 2017’s the Visa Vegas eRace, then won by Bono Huis.
The prize on the line this time around was three-fold. The podium finishers would be given a slice of the €100,000 prize pool, VIP tickets to the Seoul E-Prix and the chance to test a Formula E car for real around the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Valencia.
It was all up for grabs using rFactor 2 and a new model of the real-world English circuit.
Mirroring the real-world competition, Formula E: Accelerate utilises the new shootout system which has received much praise.
The three absentees from this session at the ExCeL Circuit (2021) were those who finished in the bottom three of Free Practice 2 – effectively turning it into yet another pre-qualifying hour. Content creator Benjamin ‘Tiametmarduk’ Daly and E-Kart champion Ellis Spiezia were both invited to the event, sadly finding themselves seconds off the pace. Petar Brljak was the unlucky professional sim racer to miss out.
The biggest shock through the quarter-finals was the elimination of Erhan Jajovski to Nikodem Wisniewski. The North Macedonian’s form has been turbulent since he lost Accelerate in 2021 on the final day and so it proved to be again.
Two-time F1 Esports Series pro champion Jarno Opmeer was also a big loss early on, facing a reinvigorated Rasmussen. The Dane would go on to take pole position (and the three points that come with the accolade) against Wisniewski. Huis lined up third.
It was a disastrous start for Wisniewski whose genuine pace was nullified after being turned round by Huis at Turn 4. The chaos benefitted both Brljak and Graham Carroll greatly, who shot up from the midfield to fifth and fourth respectively. Rasmussen would have been thanking Huis himself, for the Dane found himself five seconds clear within four minutes of racing.
Another real life carry over to Accelerate was the use of Attack Mode; a compulsory component of each individual’s race. As the various activations worked themselves out, Jiri Toman found himself bullied down the order. A domino effect started by Opmeer, who himself had passed Carroll and Brljak, saw the Czech driver down to seventh.
Opmeer had left his Attack Mode activation until the final five minutes. Despite a brutish challenge from Carroll, he survived in third place. Rasmussen was truly dominant, however, setting the fastest lap and maximum points from London. He left hopes of overtaking his points lead through the second half of the event faint at best.
- Frederik Rasmussen – 11 Laps
- Bono Huis +10.964
- Jarno Opmeer +12.400
- Graham Carroll +13.605
- Petar Brljak +14.578
- Marcell Csincsik +15.222
- Jiri Toman +18.740
- Erhan Jajovski +19.324
- Nikodem Wisniewski +41.523
- Ellis Spiezia +54.806
Daly, Spieza and Brljak all missed out on the shootouts again as the duels returned for the second and final time. Huis, under scrutiny for his part to play in Wisniewski’s first race spin, would not play a big part here thanks to an inspired lap from Jajovski in the quarter-finals. Wisniewski sadly disappointed this time around, falling to Formula Pro Series race-winner Marcell Csincsik.
Rasmussen netted another three points taking pole position ahead of Opmeer. Jajovski’s strong showing in the semi-finals against his 2021 championship rival locked in a third place start.
Opmeer’s early attacking intent was vivacious, as were Rasmussen’s defensive lines. The start, overall, was much cleaner than earlier in the day, but this once again suited the Dane. He had to suffer major misfortune now not to wrap up the title.
Rasmussen’s Attack Mode actuvatuin came earlier than expected, well before the five minute mark of the fifteen-minute race. Unfortunately for Opmeer, he could not slip through and would have to rely on his own power boost to claw back any sort of advantage. Tongue placed firmly between his teeth, Opmeer’s late-race pace was hugely impressive.
Yet, it was not enough to deny Rasmussen who came to London Town and reminded everyone why he is the ruler of this particular sim racing kingdom. Two pole positions, two fastest laps and two wins. A Grand Slam in every sense.
“I’m happy I got it done, it’s not often you get days like this,” said Red Bull Racing Esports driver Rasmussen.
“It was way longer, way harder to qualify. Everyone is at home and comfortable with their own settings,” when asked if the shorter format of 2022 was more difficult to succeed in compared to 2021’s six-round calendar.
Yet, when queried about which type of championship he preferred between the two years, the softly-spoken Red Bull Racing Esports pilot backed a merging of the two ideas for 2023.
“[I’m] not a big fan of one-off events. I prefer to have a full season of races. But I like to be on LAN; I like to be driving there with everyone else. So there’s that to consider.”
He will now enjoy the South Korean round of the championship in August, before a test of the real-world electric single-seater later in the year.
- Frederik Rasmussen – 11 Laps
- Jarno Opmeer – +0.936
- Erhan Jajovski – +1.640
- Marcell Csincsik – +5.219
- Bono Huis – +5.976
- Graham Carroll – +8.378
- Jiri Toman – +9.715
- Petar Brljak – +16.673
- Nikodem Wisniewski – +18.954
- Benjamin Daly – +1.11.096