An image of a Red Bull and a Ferrari racing in F1 23.
Image credit: PSGL

Controversy Strikes in PSGL F1 23 Opener

F1 23

The first major F1 Esports-level league racing on F1 23 began yesterday. Whilst viewership was at an all-time high, choice words from one of the drivers cast a shadow.

With the F1 Esports season still a few months out, the Pro Championship drivers are wasting no time. They’re already getting stuck in with league racing on the new F1 23 game, with PSGL starting their season already.

The top PC tier of PSGL has run for five seasons since early 2021. 2-time F1 Esports champion Jarno Opmeer won the first three seasons, then newly crowned F1 Esports champion Lucas Blakeley followed suit. Most recently, Bari Broumand won the championship after Thomas Ronhaar incurred a post-race penalty.

The driving standards have often been subject to strong criticism, and the season opener on Bahrain yesterday 21 June was no exception. In spite of breaking a concurrent viewership record of nearly 14,000 views and exceeding 30,000 subscribers, one participant was very vocal in their displeasure.

Kiefer Not Happy

Newly-signed Mercedes driver Marcel Kiefer had a few choice words after the race. He vented his frustration with the PSGL admins over not doing enough to discourage over the line moves.

Kiefer had lined up 8th on the grid, but went as far down as 14th on the opening lap. This was due to run-ins with the likes of Alfie Butcher, Wilson Hughes and Patrik Sipos.

Kiefer wasn’t the only one in the wars. His teammate Opmeer had a heated moment with Ronhaar, and considering their shared history, it’s perhaps unsurprising. Ronhaar has been accused of running external software to help him go faster, and Opmeer has been one of the most vocal about it.

On Lap 19, Opmeer was looking to take advantage of his newly fitted mediums and regain places. Ronhaar had suffered a spin after contact with Otis Lawrence, and wasn’t about to make things easy for Opmeer. The two Dutch racers had a run-in, resulting in Opmeer uttering a few four letter words we won’t be repeating.

Close Racing in PSGL F1 23 Opener

In the end, it was Blakeley who broke free of the pack to go on to win. Former teammate Broumand held on for second, making it the first time that the Iranian hasn’t won the PSGL PC Tier 1 season opener. Aston Martin’s Fabrizio Donoso completed the podium ahead of a hard charging Opmeer.

Whilst the driving standards may have been below par, the clear ability of F1 23 to allow for such close racing is very encouraging for the new Pro Championship season.

Editor’s Take

PSGL has been the leading F1 game league since the first PC Tier 1 season, and it is understandably heavily reliant on the participation of Pro Championship-level drivers to increase their viewership. That, however, inevitably results in a power struggle.

In the Pro Championship, the drivers are representing the teams who are the ones contending for the prize pool of $750,000. So when one driver does something that catches the steward’s ire, they are punished and dissuaded because they’re aiming to get the prize money for their teams.

PSGL and all the other major leagues have had issues in the past where attempting to punish a driver has seen them threaten to leave. Take Opmeer for example; in a PSGL round at Paul Ricard after cutting the pit exit line, he threatened to quit after getting a penalty. It’s evident that the drivers have too much leverage and the organisers are concerned that punishing them will result in losing the driver’s social reach.

What do you make of the driving standards in the PSGL F1 23 opener? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!

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