We spoke to two of F1 Esports’ most recent breakthrough stars, Nicolas Longuet and Lucas Blakeley, ahead of event three.
Photo credit: Joe Brady
The penultimate round of the F1 Esports Pro Series 2020 is getting underway with racing at three legendary race tracks; Silverstone, Spa and Monza. It marks a crucial point in the season as the Dutch favorite Alfa Romeo’s Jarno Opmeer is racing away at the top of the drivers’ championship, and his rivals have a limited amount of time to respond to him.
Star debutant turns title contender
Among the outside contenders for the title is Renault’s Nicolas Longuet. The Frenchman sits fourth in the championship but is some 63 points adrift of ex-Renault Esports driver Opmeer. The 2020 season marks Longuet’s full-time debut in the series, after he competed in one race for teams’ champions Red Bull last year.
That race happened to be at Monza, and Longuet shocked everybody by finishing in second place and just six-tenths away from a debut win. Monza is the final race of the third event, and Longeut was bullish about his chances this year:
I’m feeling really confident for Monza this year. My pace looks like it carried over from last year. Obviously, I’m looking to have Daniel Ricciardo-style unfinished business there and try to finish on the top step of the podium this time.
Longuet began his Pro Series stint with Renault by taking a pole position, a podium and a fastest lap during the opening event of the 2020 season. He feels like the pressure of the expectation negatively affected his performance during the second event. However he’s been working hard to make sure there’s no repeat of this in the latest event.
I feel like at the beginning, I had more of a mindset of I have nothing to lose. I didn’t feel as much pressure on me, but now after event one, having done a double pole position [one was taken away by the stewards], I feel like more people have this expectation of me of always qualifying at the top or near the top. I feel like that affected my mindset [in event two]. It shouldn’t affect my mindset this time.
Nicolas ‘Longway’ isn’t afraid to overtake
The Renault Esports star earned the nickname ‘Nicolas Longway’ for his stunning overtakes at Zandvoort – a circuit not known for its overtaking opportunities. Longuet admitted he needed to pull off those insane moves because they’d opted for the wrong race strategy.
Just call him Nicolas Long-way!@NicolasLonguet was in fine form on Wednesday, taking the scenic route past the Mercedes duo as he moved up to P5 👏#F1Esports 🎮 #F1 @TeamVitality pic.twitter.com/YPw3MR5IFJ— Formula 1 (@F1) November 5, 2020
Race strategy has been a big focus of Longuet’s preparations for the latest event and he vowed that they “wouldn’t make that mistake again,” in event three.
Another driver who raced part-time in 2019 but found himself with a full-time drive in 2020 was Lucas Blakeley. The Scotsman scored more points in the F1 Esports Pro Exhibition than any other driver but has struggled to replicate those same results in the 2020 Pro Series for Racing Point.
Blakeley sits 11th in the drivers’ championship and has scored 15 of his team’s 18 points. When we asked him why he’s struggled to fight at the front of the field, he said there’s a “multitude of factors, there’s never really one thing. There’s not a black and white reason.”
He’s confident of bouncing back and returning to the form that saw him take second place at Suzuka in only his second race in the series in 2019.
I do remember the exact feelings I had when I made my debut. Subsequently in the last event when I got to do some more races – and you don’t feel so much a stranger to the series. You feel more comfortable within yourself, whether you feel more established or not, I don’t know. But I like to think that I’ve earned my place here and ultimately, I feel I’m just as passionate as anybody else on this grid.
The “human factor” behind F1 Esports drivers
Blakeley continued to explain the psychology behind an F1 Esports driver and the “human factor” involved in competing in the series.
I’ve proved to myself, it doesn’t need to be proved that I belong in F1 Esports, because as long as you’re happy within yourself, you know you’ve done the job and got everything out of it. That’s what is important. As much as people just see it as a video game – you sit in a seat in your bedroom and turn a wheel and push pedals – it’s very much mentally a human factor. I see it as something you can put your whole life into and chase perfection. Just like any other sport and just like [real-world] Formula 1.
Watch event three of the F1 Esports Pro Series presented by Aramco on November 18-19, live on F1’s official Facebook, YouTube and Twitch channels. For full info on how to watch visit the F1 Esports website.
Who do you think is going to win most points in the penultimate round? Tell us on Twitter at @overtake_gg!