Thomas Ronhaar has won many races in the past. The Dutchman took plenty of victories in World Online Racing on Xbox and PC before taking multiple wins in his debut F1 Esports Series Pro campaign. But despite the success and pace, he never took the top step of the podium in Premier Sim Gaming Leagues‘ F1 split until now.
Ronhaar fought off Alvaro Carreton to take his first win of the season and the championship lead away from Jake Benham. His teammate Jarno Opmeer fought through the field to claim another podium in Season 32.
After another mixed-up grid, four F2 drivers were out in the first qualifying stage: Can Akinci, Dylan Warren, Harvey Cowan, and Will Lewis, who opted not to qualify. They were joined in the drop zone by PC F1 debutant Conor Muir, who narrowly missed out on Q2.
The pace ramped up and saw a few shock eliminations, including Otis Lawrence and Tomek Poradzisz. The Welshman had impressed since moving onto PC but struggled to pull a lap together and started 15th. Max Wissel narrowly missed out on Q3, lining up next to Poradzisz. Liam Parnell and Filip Presnajder lined up on the seventh row.
Onto Q3, Ronhaar and Bereznay looked the favourites for pole position, but Patrik Sipos delivered a lap over a tenth clear of the F1 Esports pole record to shock the viewers at home.
Ronhaar started second, with Alvaro Carreton, Jarno Opmeer and Bereznay completing the top five.
Wilson Hughes managed to get ahead of Jake Benham for sixth, with Marcel Kiefer, Alfie Butcher, and last week’s winner Luke Smith completing the top 10.
Ronhaar went for the lead into Turn 1 but was pinched to the inside, allowing Carreton to swoop around the outside and take second. Hughes similarly took advantage and got past Opmeer and Bereznay into fourth. That was the least of the Hungarian’s issues as Benham spun him into Turn 4 and dropped to the back of the field.
In the opening third of the race, there was a lack of movement within the top 10, other than Otis Lawrence showing why he is one to watch for the future. The Welshman had progressed past Parnell, Poradzisz and Presnajder before a stunning move on Wissel in the first sector to move into the points.
Amid that, Sipos picked up a time penalty for exceeding track limits, and Kiefer lost two places to Butcher and Smith after making a small error in the middle sector.
The mistake saw a break in the train, so Smith boxed for an undercut on Lap 17 and was followed by Sipos, Hughes, and Kiefer the next lap.
A one-lap undercut did not seem strong around Interlagos as Carreton managed to stay ahead of Smith after boxing on Lap 19, leaving Ronhaar, Opmeer and Benham out front.
Two laps later, two of the trio boxed, with Opmeer extending his stint further to have a considerable advantage at the end of the race. Ronhaar lost one place to Hughes, whilst Benham filtered out behind Smith in a net sixth.
Opmeer and Lawrence were the last to pit on Lap 22, leaving the order as Sipos, Carreton, Hughes, Ronhaar, Benham, Smith, Kiefer, Opmeer and Lawrence as the battle for the race win.
The Dutchman in the Haas was on a mission, however, and he eased past the Scotsman and onto the podium. But he was not done there. A lap later, he overtook both Sipos and Carreton down the main straight to inherit the race lead with 11 laps to go.
With his fresher tyres, Opmeer was on a charge and passed Kiefer and Smith within a lap to move into the top six, directly behind his teammate Benham.
The Dutchman moved up another two spots on Lap 29 after Benham went for an overtake on Hughes, with the pair making contact. Smith tried to follow Opmeer through but spun the McLaren Shadow driver off, and his race went from bad to worse.
Lawrence was waiting behind the carnage, picking the perfect moment to attack Kiefer and Hughes to move into the top six.
An error from Sipos at the final corner moved Opmeer into the top three with five laps to go. Limited battery meant victory for Opmeer seemed impossible without a collision between the two leaders.
Ronhaar had the tyre and ERS advantage heading onto the final lap, and he kept Carreton at arm’s length to take his first PSGL win, with Opmeer third and Sipos fourth despite a time penalty.
Benham, who sustained slight damage after his contact with Hughes, was chased down by Lawrence on the final lap but finished just 0.027 seconds behind the Mercedes driver in fifth.
Hughes fought off Kiefer to finish seventh, ahead of Smith and Poradzisz completing the points.
Next up, a trip to the reprofiled Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for Round 6.
SEASON 32 PREMIER SIM GAMING LEAGUE PC F1 CHAMPIONSHIP: ROUND 5 RESULTS
- Thomas Ronhaar – Haas – 36 laps
- Alvaro Carreton – Williams Racing +0.191s
- Jarno Opmeer – Mercedes-AMG Petronas +0.449s
- Patrik Sipos – Alpine +5.186s
- Jake Benham – Mercedes-AMG Petronas +6.020s
- Otis Lawrence – Red Bull +6.047s
- Wilson Hughes – McLaren +7.827s
- Marcel Kiefer – Red Bull +8.439s
- Luke Smith – Alpine +8.809s
- Tomek Poradzisz – Alfa Romeo ORLEN +8.886s