Ferrari esports driver David Tonizza has struggled in his 2020 F1 Esports campaign. We take a look at what’s troubling the Italian this season.
Photo credit: F1 2020
After a disappointing season, David Tonizza finally won his second race of the F1 Esports Pro Series 2020 on Thursday, November 19, when he led Jarno Opmeer by two tenths of a second at the chequered flag. This home victory, though, represents the high point in what has been a very difficult season for the reigning F1 Esports Pro Series champion.
Tonizza has managed only one other win this season, which was at the Vietnam Grand Prix. On top of that, the Italian sits just sixth in the championship standings with sixty-five points, almost a hundred less than championship leader Opmeer has accrued. So what have the problems been for Tonizza, why has the Ferrari driver been struggling so badly in this 2020 season?
Bahrain – just a one-off affair?
It was as early as the first qualifying of the season that we saw the first hints of what was to come for Tonizza, only managing to secure twelfth on the grid in Bahrain. In his victorious 2019 F1 Esports campaign, the Italian took the first win of the season at the very same circuit, and yet in 2020 he couldn’t even make the top ten in qualifying.
Qualifying isn’t everything, though, and Tonizza had twenty laps in which to fight his way up through the field when it came to the race itself. However, there was no fairytale comeback on the cards. An opening lap incident with Manuel Biancolilla forced the reigning champion to pit on the very first lap of the race for a new nose cone, effectively ending his chances of points. Tonizza finished the race in twentieth and last.
It was a totally different story later that same day at F1 Esports’ inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix. Second on the grid alongside Opmeer on pole was where Tonizza found himself for the race start. The FDA Hublot Esports Team man quickly turned second into first with a clean move down the inside of Opmeer in the first corner of the race.
That first lap manuever was only the beginning of a ding-dong battle between the two front row starters which saw the lead changing hands multiple times. In the end, Tonizza dealt with the onslaught of first Opmeer and later of the Renault Vitality of Nicolas Longuet to claim his first victory of the season. At this point, fans of the Italian were no doubt breathing a collective sigh of relief. Bahrain, it seemed, had simply been a one-off affair.
The relief of the fans would last less than twenty-four hours before the cruel hand of fate was to strike Tonizza at one of the worst possible moments. Having qualified fourth for the Chinese Grand Prix, Tonizza once again got the better of Opmeer on the opening lap of the race and made his way up into third.
Any joy the reigning champion felt after his good first lap surely evaporated less than a lap later. Both he and his Ferrari teammate Enzo Bonito suddenly disconnected from the game session on the second lap of the race. They were unable to re-enter the grand prix, and Tonizza finished down in nineteenth place as a result. This was the first truly unlucky moment of the Italian’s season, but it would not be the last.
More bad luck
Event two began much like the first had done, with an underwhelming performance in qualifying. This time around, Tonizza could only manage fourteenth on the grid for the race at Zandvoort. At a circuit where overtaking is very difficult, the poor qualifying left the FDA Hublot driver with a lot to do.
Ultimately, the challenge proved to be insurmountable. Tonizza went aggressive on strategy by stopping early for new tires, but even then he could only battle his way up into eleventh by the time the chequered flag fell.
Similarities to the first event of the season continued to arise when Tonizza qualified well in Canada, as he had done in Vietnam. This time, though, the Italian went one better than he had before, snagging pole position for the race in Montreal.
Tonizza opted for the alternate strategy, leaving himself with a considerable disadvantage to catch up with in the second half of the race. However, the Italian proved to be up to the task, scything through the field on his fresh, soft rubber. It seemed certain that the reigning champion was going to score a big haul of points from the fifth race of the season.
But then, his fortunes took another turn for the worse. The Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen Esports car of Jarno Opmeer, which had been catching Tonizza towards the end of the race, squeezed the Ferrari against the wall, sending it flying. It was later revealed that, due to a bug in the game, Opmeer had not been able to see Tonizza’s car at all. This was undoubtedly little solace to David himself though. This was yet another race down the drain.
On to Spielberg and once again Tonizza suffered from a lackluster qualifying performance, starting from ninth. Yet the race itself was even more of a disappointment. A twelfth-place finish at the flag meant that Tonizza had slipped backwards throughout the race, though he was promoted up to tenth following the application of post-race penalties.
Is the champion staging a comeback?
The most recent F1 Esports event started off with the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Tonizza qualified well, starting from the second row. Despite this, he struggled in the race. The alternate strategy didn’t work out for the Italian, who crossed the line in seventh, but once again he benefitted from the penalties of others to claim fifth place.
A solid points haul at Silverstone was nice, but now it was up to Tonizza to press on and start to build momentum. Race number eight at Spa saw the Italian qualify fourth, a promising prospect for the race ahead.
Once again, though, it would be a race of frustration and disappointment for the 18-year-old. Both he and his debutant teammate Filip Presnajder lost out during the pit stops. Furthermore, both drivers couldn’t find pace on their medium tires, and the team limped home with Tonizza claiming eighth.
Tonizza and the team only had a day to dwell on the poor result before it was time for their home grand prix at Monza. Here, Tonizza started as he meant to go on, claiming his second pole position of the season. The home victory at Monza never truly looked in doubt. Tonizza didn’t crack under the pressure he was put under by Opmeer all race long, and claimed his second win of the season.
David Tonizza’s season has been fraught with terrible luck on some occasions. The Chinese and Canadian grands prix are the standouts, and there is absolutely nothing that Tonizza could have done to prevent those issues.
However, there is more to Tonizza’s problems than that. If one, very generously, assumes that the 2019 champion would have won both of those races, he would still only be sitting fourth in the championship. That would still be an incredible achievement, of course, but it is not the championship defence that the Ferrari driver would have been hoping for.
For David, a good final event of the season is critical. He will desperately want to show the world what could have been, had it not been for his misfortunes earlier in the season. The championship may well be out of reach, but there is still pride on the line.
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