Before the start of the 2021 F1 Esports Pro Championship season, we here at OverTake were invited to take part in a press conference with reigning champion Jarno Opmeer. Here is what we found out.
Photo credit: F1 Esports
In a press conference given in advance of the start of the 2021 F1 Esports Pro Championship season, Mercedes AMG Petronas Esports Team driver and reigning champion Jarno Opmeer gave his thoughts on an array of topics, from the quality of competition in the F1 Esports field to what he feels would improve the series. He also discussed the subject of building a following, and the necessity for more drivers to try and do as he has done.
A Weaker Field?
For many, the assumption would be that, given the fact that F1 Esports is still just in its infancy, there ought to be an improving field year on year. As far as Jarno is concerned, this is not quite the case. He said, “performance wise, I think, comparing last year’s drivers to this year’s it’s pretty equal, maybe even a little bit lower as some very good names have stepped out.” In particular, the dutchman highlighted the departures of James Baldwin and Enzo Bonito from the series as significant losses.
However, that doesn’t mean that he feels comfortable at the top. “The main people that are usually in the top seven I think are going to be there again.” he said. The top seven drivers in question, aside from Jarno himself, are the Red Bull Racing Esports pairing of Marcel Kiefer and Frede Rasmussen, 2019 champion David Tonizza, Opmeer’s own teammate Dani Moreno, as well as potentially the McLaren Shadow pairing of relative newcomer Bardia Boroumand and Daniel Bereznay. Of these names, Rasmussen’s was the first that came to mind for Opmeer when thinking about threats to his title campaign.
Uncertainty in the Ranks
Even though Jarno has a top seven in mind when it comes to his competitors, he claims that while “the aim is to win every race… we have no idea where we are going to be standing until the first qualifying session in Bahrain.”
When asked whether or not the results of F1 2021 league races such as those held by Premier Sim Gaming Leagues were a useful indicator of outright performance, Jarno was careful to avoid reading too much into it, citing the fact that some drivers did not take league races as seriously as others, but that ,”if they did take it seriously then we are looking pretty good!”
Life at Mercedes
When asked questions about the switch from Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen Esports to Mercedes during the off-season, Jarno was evidently feeling positive. He spoke from the Mercedes factory itself, from which he will be taking part in the Pro Championship races. According to him, driving for Mercedes means that he has, “a lot more resources than I had last year, and that helps of course.”
At one point, Jarno was asked a potentially tricky question regarding whether or not he felt that the two time F1 Esports champion Brendon Leigh had made a mistake in leaving Mercedes for FDA Esports Team, but the reigning champion was forthright in his response: “Yeah, I do think he has made a mistake, but we will see at the end of the year whether he is better off or not. Personally for him, it might have been better. But for me, this move was pretty logical and better for myself.”
Driving F1 Esports Forward
In recent months, Opmeer has achieved a great deal of success as a content creator in his own right, both through livestreams and through YouTube videos. This, he feels, is something that more of the drivers in the field should be striving for. “Content wise, me, Marcel Kiefer and Lucas Blakeley are the only ones really pushing it, and I think that’s very much necessary… if F1 Esports wants to grow even more… that will need to happen.”
Thank you frends pic.twitter.com/eqkWRDcMq2— Jarno Opmeer (@jarno_opmeer) September 2, 2021
As a follow up to this comment, Jarno was asked whether F1 could or should be doing more to develop the popularity of the series, but he felt that while “they could, of course, promote it more on F1 weekends”, the onus should be more with the drivers, who need to “put in effort as well to grow their audience – it’s not just on F1 to try and make F1 Esports bigger, it’s also on the teams and on the drivers to really push that.”
Event 1 of the F1 Esports Pro Championships kicks off on 13-14 October and is available to watch via official Formula 1 channels on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch. For full information about the Pro Championship visit: https://www.f1esports.com/.
How do you think Jarno will do in the new Pro Championship season? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!