On one hand, the third F1 Esports event of the year provided some of the most exciting races we have seen. On the other, many felt that there was some questionable driving on show. Here are the headlines after the penultimate event of F1 Esports in 2022.
Image credit: Red Bull Esports
F1 Esports event three saw the drivers tackling the Italian, Mexico City and US Grand Prix tracks and all three races were arguably some of the best in F1 Esports’ short five year history. All three rounds were won by Dutch drivers.
Rookie sensation Thomas Ronhaar narrowly beat Bari Boroumand at Monza to take his second win. Then, Jarno Opmeer returned to winning ways with a convincing drive on the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. He proceeded to double up on this victory, after an incredible last lap tussle on COTA with Ronhaar, Boroumand and Brendon Leigh saw Opmeer come out on top.
But, for some fans and drivers alike, what should have gone down as some of the best races in F1 Esports was instead overshadowed by some poor driving. With how competitive and cutthroat the series is, it was perhaps inevitable that at some point, tensions would boil over.
Losing his Ice Cool
In the Mexico City race, Red Bull’s Frederik Rasmussen had been leading after taking pole but got caught up in the midfield after his stop. As a result of having to navigate the traffic, he had already lost his net lead to Opmeer. After the reigning champion overcut him, Rasmussen was subsequently backed into Ronhaar.
That led to the Haas driver attempting an overtake around the slow T4-5 section, and he made it stick and Rasmussen took to the runoff. The Red Bull ace has, at times this year, juxtaposed his ice cool nature with moments of frustration.
Unfortunately, what happened next was deemed by the stewards to be an illegal move. It seemed to those watching as though Rasmussen didn’t even attempt to make a corner, instead attempting to take out Ronhaar.
Rasmussen’s race had completely imploded by that point, with the Dane earning multiple penalties. He then earned a ten place penalty for the COTA race as a result of this move.
The Champ is Back
With all that going on behind, Jarno Opmeer finally broke his 2022 curse by taking his first win of the season. He had been knocked out in Q1 in just the previous race, proving how close and competitive F1 Esports has become.
Like previous champions Brendon Leigh and David Tonizza, Opmeer’s failure to win races until this point had led some to question whether the Dutchman was still a top F1 Esports driver. Even after the first race at Bahrain where he finished second to Blakeley, the following race on Imola saw Opmeer getting tagged and spun on the first lap, leading to an 11th place finish.
Now after two wins, the two-time champion has thrust himself back into title contention.
Also worth noting is Opmeer’s teammate Jake Benham, who made his Pro Championship debut in Event 3. The young Brit fought with fellow DHL Time Trial qualifier Thomas Ronhaar in the Pro Exhibition. Unlike the Haas driver, who is now fighting for the title, Benham took a back seat to his teammates, Opmeer and Dani Moreno.
Taking Moreno’s seat, Benham put in some impressive performances and ended up taking home four points from the Mexico City race with an 8th place finish. Speaking of British drivers, Brendon Leigh returned to the podium for the first time since 2020; his first with Ferrari. He very nearly claimed the win in the last lap tussle between Opmeer, Ronhaar and Boroumand at COTA.
With one more event to go, the title battle really has heated up. Alfa Romeo’s Nicolas Longuet is 75 points back with 78 remaining, so it seems pretty unlikely he will be fighting for the title. As such, it’s between five drivers.
McLaren’s Lucas Blakeley leads on 132 points, Haas’ Thomas Ronhaar is on 121, Blakeley’s teammate Bari Boroumand is on 118, Red Bull’s Frederik Rasmussen has 115 and Mercedes’ Jarno Opmeer has 110. If last year’s three-way title fight was something to get excited about, adding Ronhaar and Boroumand into the mix makes for a mouth-watering prospect.
Who will it be? Can Blakeley hold onto the lead like he has done all season? Can Opmeer perform the comeback of the century? Can Rasmussen finally get his long-awaited first championship? Or will it be one of the two newer faces that have found their way into title contention?
All will be answered in the grand final from 14-16 December on the Suzuka, Interlagos and Yas Marina circuits. Qualifying and the races will all be broadcast on the official F1 YouTube and Twitch channels.
Who do you think will win the 2022 F1 Esports Series Pro Championship? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!