After being notoriously slow starters in previous seasons, Event 1 has been largely successful for Red Bull Racing Esports in the current F1 Esports Pro Championship.
Frede Rasmussen came fourth on the road at Bahrain, but a controversial post-race penalty awarded to the Dane dropped him down to eighth: his teammate finished well outside the points.
The Event 1 curse remained with the team after Rasmussen crashed in qualifying on his final lap in Q3 and lined up ninth at Imola, but Marcel Kiefer showed the Bull’s speed and lined up on the front row in second.
The German finished where he started, and Kiefer was joined by Rasmussen on the podium after a brilliant strategy allowed the Dane to undercut from ninth to third.
Jumping up into second in the Constructors’ standings, the team from Milton Keynes was looking to close the gap to McLaren at its home race at Silverstone.
Having taken the last two poles at Silverstone, Rasmussen made it a hat-trick by pipping Sebastian Job and Thomas Ronhaar to his first pole position of the 2022 F1 Esports Pro Championship.
McLaren Shadow could only manage the third row of the grid, meaning it looked like a damage limitation round, like Red Bull Racing at Imola.
Opmeer struggled in Q3 yet again, and a mistake on his final run cost him a shot at pole position: the two-time F1 Esports Series Pro Champion only managed ninth.
Kiefer could not even get into Q3 after Lucas Blakeley’s ghost car affected the German on his first run in Q2 as the Scotsman lagged out: the German then invalidated his second run.
Ronhaar’s starts had cost him in the opening two rounds, but he got the perfect launch to sail past Sebastian Job and into second place when the lights went out.
Further back, a sound issue for Bari Boroumand caused the Iranian to spin at Turn 3, meaning his wait for a first F1 Esports Series Pro win goes on.
That promoted Jarno Opmeer, and he quickly dispatched the two Alpine’s of Smith and Patrik Sipos as the Mercedes driver opted to start on the alternate strategy and go onto the medium tyres.
The Dutchman needed to get a move on and lined up Longuet at Brooklands, a corner where the two had a history in Premier Sim Gaming Leagues back on F1 2021. Opmeer took the outside line and dove into the slipstream before completing the move on the Frenchman at Copse.
The Dutchman could make no further progress in the DRS train and chose to pit onto the white-walled hard tyres on the 10th lap.
With the undercut not as powerful at Silverstone compared to Imola, due to warm-up difficulties, Longuet managed to overcut his way past Opmeer and into fifth.
Further forward, the undercut did work for Lucas Blakeley, and he moved ahead of Sebastian Job with a brilliant move at Brooklands.
Rasmussen and Ronhaar were the last two of the leading contenders to box, and such was their pace at the front, the duo was well clear of Blakeley in third and faced no pressure during their tyre warm-up phase.
It was a straight fight to the flag as those behind the Dane saved their battery trying to launch an attack. Opmeer produced two overtakes on Leigh, who found himself ahead thanks to an undercut, and Longuet on the final lap to finish in fifth in another damage limitation event for the reigning champion.
At the front, Ronhaar probed but refused to overtake Rasmussen until the final lap, like the Dane had done on Dani Moreno the season prior. The straight-line speed advantage seemed to aid Rasmussen as Ronhaar gained very little in the DRS, earning him an 11th F1 Esports Series Pro victory, closing the gap to 21 points between himself and Blakeley.
Ronhaar deservedly claimed his maiden F1 Esports Series Pro podium, jumping into third place in the standings. Job continued his strong start to the season with fourth, moving Alpha Tauri into fifth place overall.
Longuet came home sixth to add eight points to Alfa Romeo’s campaign, with Leigh, Sipos, Donoso, and Smith scoring double points for Ferrari and Alpine in the final race of Event 1.
Next up, Event 2 gets underway in under four weeks with trips to Austria, Belgium and Zandvoort.
- Frede Rasmussen – Oracle Red Bull Racing F1 Esports – 39:23.167
- Thomas Ronhaar – Haas F1 Team Esports – +0.673
- Lucas Blakeley – McLaren Shadow – +1.925
- Sebastian Job – Scuderia Alpha Tauri Esports – +2.446
- Jarno Opmeer – Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Esports – +3.960
- Nicolas Longuet – Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN Esports – +4.798
- Brendon Leigh – Scuderia Ferrari Velas Esports – +5.911
- Patrik Sipos – Alpine F1 Esports Team – +6.135
- Fabrizo Donoso – Scuderia Ferrari Velas Esports – +6.561
- Luke Smith – Alpine F1 Esports Team – +7.022