In the grand finale of the 2022 F1 Esports Pro Championship, Lucas Blakeley sealed the title and his team McLaren Shadow also took the majority of the $750,000 prize pool.
Image credit: McLaren Shadow
Last week saw the final three races of the F1 Esports season take place, and it was down to just five drivers. Championship leader and McLaren driver Lucas Blakeley had not seen his lead toppled all season long, and went into the finale just eleven points ahead of Haas’ rookie sensation Thomas Ronhaar.
Blakeley’s teammate Bari Boroumand was third ahead of Red Bull’s Frederik Rasmussen and reigning two-time champion Jarno Opmeer. Heading into the last race, only Rasmussen and Ronhaar were realistically able to challenge Blakeley.
Suzuka – Benham Ministry of Defence
In the opening race of the three, Ronhaar took pole position but lost the lead at the start as Nicolas Longuet was on the grippier medium compound of tyres. After the pit stops played out, Ronhaar caught up to Mercedes’ Jake Benham who put up a sturdy defence. Many believed Benham to be trying to hold up the pack as much as possible for teammate Opmeer.
The two-time champion had extended his hard tyre stint after an early elimination in Q1, and after putting on the mediums not long before the end, began making inroads. His charge was halted though when he clashed with Ferrari’s Fabrizio Donoso and spun, which all but eliminated him from the championship.
Ronhaar and the rest of the pack eventually made it past Benham but it was too little too late for the Haas driver who couldn’t mount a challenge on Nicolas Longuet. The Alfa Romeo driver took his first win since the final race of 2020, with championship protagonists Ronhaar, Rasmussen and Blakeley following behind.
With Bari Boroumand finishing fifth, it gave McLaren Shadow an insurmountable lead in the team’s championship and for the first time in F1 Esports, they were team’s champions. Joining Mercedes (2018 and 2021) and Red Bull (2019 and 2020) in winning the title. As such, they take home the majority of the $750,000 prize pool.
Interlagos – Blakeley Bounces Back
Plenty of people had reason to believe that the momentum was on Thomas Ronhaar’s side, but the qualifying for the second race of the event quickly changed the narrative. Lucas Blakeley – despite having a considerable number of soft tyres less than Ronhaar to set a quick time in Q3 – set a time that Ronhaar could only match down to the thousandth of a second.
That initially put them both on the front row, until it was found that Ronhaar had impeded Rasmussen in Q2 which earned him a 3-place grid penalty. The race began in intermediate conditions, and Blakeley kept his lead at a steady margin throughout the race even when the changeover to slicks came.
Despite it being bone dry, Alpine’s Luke Smith remained on inters and became a bit of a blockade in the pack. Ronhaar couldn’t pass Smith in good time, and subsequently started bleeding positions. Ultimately, the Dutchman was sixth come the chequered flag. Not the result he needed to mount a challenge to Blakeley.
Heading into the all-important final race, Blakeley held a 21 point lead to Rasmussen who only had one point more than Ronhaar. It was pretty much Blakeley’s to lose, but crazier things have happened in F1 Esports.
Yas Marina – Grand Finale
It was AlphaTauri’s breakout star Josh Idowu who sprung a surprise to take the final pole position of the year, with championship protagonists Ronhaar, Rasmussen and Blakeley all lining up behind him. McLaren’s other title contender Bari Boroumand was still mathematically in contention, but he needed a miracle and his elimination in Q2 had all but sealed his fate.
At the start, Ronhaar was the only driver to start on mediums and he wasted no time getting into the lead ahead of Idowu. Being in Red Bull’s sister team, the Welshman didn’t put up any defence against Rasmussen who was going for the championship. It all remained stagnant for a few laps until Ronhaar pitted.
Red Bull and Haas’ other drivers Marcel Kiefer and Piotr Stachulec attempted to defend in the style of Benham. While Stachulec managed to hold up the likes of Rasmussen and Blakeley temporarily, Kiefer’s connection had other plans, and the German disconnected from the session at the most crucial moment.
He reconnected to give his teammate some much needed towing and DRS, and it proved effective as Rasmussen passed Ronhaar before the end. The race then started to heat up. Alpine’s drivers Patrik Sipos and Luke Smith were running in P4 and P6 respectively. However, they suffered an implosion in the dying laps, as both span out. The French team could only salvage a solitary point courtesy of Smith.
All the calamities going on in the last few laps didn’t fluster Blakeley, who brought it home a safe P4 which gave him more than enough points to join Brendon Leigh, David Tonizza and Jarno Opmeer in the pantheon of F1 Esports champions. The Scot was extremely animated when he crossed the line, and who could blame him?
Race Engineer George Simmons was telling him to be mindful of teammate Boroumand who was still racing next to him. But to no avail. Blakeley had done it, all that he had worked hard for was finally his.
2022 – Blakeley’s Year
The Scot left Aston Martin – the team he had been with throughout all of his time in F1 Esports – after a stellar 2021 season with them. He led the championship on multiple occasions, and went into the last event only five points behind Opmeer. Unfortunately, though, he was eliminated from contention before the final race.
He began the year making headlines, as he entered into the eRace of Champions. Even though he fell short of beating Opmeer, he ultimately came away with a bigger prize. In the Nations’ Cup, they made up the eROC All-Stars team and went up against the historically successful Team Germany with F1 drivers Mick Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel.
In the heat, Blakeley lined up alongside the 4-time F1 world champion and despite next to no real-world driving experience before the event, he defeated Vettel by 0.08 seconds.
As a result of this incredible achievement, we awarded Lucas our coveted Hero of the Month award. Back then, it wasn’t known what team he would be racing for in F1 Esports or if he even would be, but it was suspected he was joining McLaren Shadow.
Blakeley began winning consistently on the new F1 22 game. He won a shortened PSGL season and even though he only competed in a third of the rounds of WOR, he still went into the final round in mathematical contention! So, to many, it seemed very apparent who was the favourite heading into the new season.
So it has proven to be, despite an incredible challenge from Thomas Ronhaar who will no doubt be in contention next season. The same can be said for Frederik Rasmussen, who without a non-score from the Mexico City race could have possibly been in a stronger position to win that championship that constantly eludes him. But he will have to settle for second once more.
For all F1 game racing fans, plenty of top level leagues will be starting up their next seasons with the Pro Championship drivers in January. Also next month, F1 Esports Challengers will be returning with the best hopeful Pro Championship drivers on Xbox, PlayStation and PC looking to impress all ten teams.
The Pro Championship will now be on hiatus until the next Codemasters game releases, and even then it won’t begin until a couple of months afterwards. Who could be the next F1 Esports champion in 12 months?
What did you make of the F1 Esports grand finale? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!