An image of Lucas Blakeley at the McLaren headquarters, alongside an image of a McLaren car in F1 22.

Blakeley: “Brutal Honesty” Key to McLaren Success

F1 22

Ahead of the upcoming F1 Esports Pro Championship 2022 finale, we sat down to talk to championship leader Lucas Blakeley.

Image credit: McLaren / Codematers / EA

For a while now, Lucas Blakeley has seemed like an F1 Esports champion in waiting. His first great flash of brilliance was back in 2020, when he won the F1 Esports Pro Exhibition race at Monaco from pole.

Since then, the Scotsman has gone from strength to strength. As a part of Aston Martin’s esports team, he came close to tasting championship glory in 2021. However, he fell short with just two races remaining, leaving Jarno Opmeer and Frede Rasmussen to battle it out. 2022, though, has been a different story. Ever since the very first event, Lucas has led the way.

However, he is now on a three race streak without a podium finish, and not one, not two, but four competitors are closing in on him in the standings. We spoke with Lucas Blakeley to find out how he is feeling ahead of the F1 Esports 2022 finale.

OverTake: How has switching from Aston Martin to McLaren changed things for you?

Lucas Blakeley:

First, being part of McLaren is one of the greatest privileges I have ever had. It’s been such a great time with McLaren, so far. It’s great to really share the highs and the lows together. This season has been a massive rollercoaster and it’s been a complete change of perspective where you can embrace that team culture where you win and lose together.

The team culture has been amazing, and it’s something I have really enjoyed compared to past experiences. The simple way to put it is that my happiness is much higher. I don’t have as much anxiety or stress over things that shouldn’t be the case. I can only sum it up as a great time. I still have to pinch myself to realise that it’s what I get to do. I grew up watching McLaren, so there’s a special place in my heart for all of this.

OverTake: Both you and your teammate are in the thick of the championship fight. How has the McLaren team helped the pair of you?

Lucas Blakeley:

By giving us that support structure that we need. They have been helping us and providing us with the essential things that are required to fight for a championship: good teamwork, great environment, the collaborative efforts of everyone in the team.

One of our key strengths is how we are able to be so brutally honest with each other. That’s something I think that not many people are able to do. That’s what makes us such a great unit.

Working with Bari has been great fun. It’s no secret how quick he is. We’ve worked really well together, we’ve pushed each other extraordinarily hard all year, and I think it’s pushed both of us to higher levels. I take great satisfaction in the fact that we have done something together that has achieved great results for McLaren.

OverTake: Last season you were also in the title fight until the last couple of races. Do you think that things will end differently this year?

Lucas Blakeley:

Naturally I always have the self-belief that I can achieve the ultimate goal – to try and win the world championship. I wouldn’t be on the grid if I didn’t think I could do it.

Last year I went into the final event with a good chance, had a lot of confidence last year. But sadly, things didn’t roll my way. But, this time I am going into the last event as championship leader, so I guess that’s a positive.

You can only really do what you can control. There are going to be a lot of variables in this last event. There’s an excitement. Obviously, there is going to be a lot of pressure, a lot of nerves, but it’s also extremely exciting. Last year I had that excitement as well – you’re going into the last event with the chance to become the champion, that’s what really excites you. It gives me plenty of fuel and fire to utilise going into the final event.

OverTake: The last three races, Monza, Mexico and the USA, didn’t go your way as much as other races did earlier in the season. What was different?

Lucas Blakeley:

Well, it’s details. The margins in F1 Esports are so fine, so tiny things can change the outcome completely. I came sixth, seventh and sixth, but it could have easily been podium, podium and then fighting for a podium again.

Things on my side of the garage, unfortunately, just didn’t roll our way.  It just didn’t fall on our side, which is the way it goes in racing. We try and make the best judgements we can. The good thing I take away from the last events was that I still drove incredibly well in the races. Qualifying was a little more up and down.

In all three of the races I put myself in the position to fight for the win or the podium. There’s still lots to be positive about going into the last event.

OverTake: Is there a certain driver you are most worried about going into the final event?

Lucas Blakeley:

It doesn’t really matter who it is, I’ve got four drivers that are within 22 points of me. It doesn’t really matter who they are, I just need to make sure I’m getting the best results I can. The points are going to take care of themselves. I can’t influence everything, I can just do the best that I can.

We’ve seen in F1 Esports how tight the margins are, and everyone can win. I just have to make sure I am performing at my best.

OverTake: Is there another driver you’ve been particularly impressed with or surprised by this season?

Lucas Blakeley:

Because the field is so competitive, everyone has the potential to win, or at least to fight at the front. It’s just a case of who puts it together on the day. That encourages a lot of potential winners. I could go through many drivers and say how they’ve done a good job in this particular race, or over the course of the season.

OverTake: Is there another driver you particularly consider a rival of yours?

Lucas Blakeley:

All 19 other drivers are my rivals on track. In terms of racing, I’ve had a few good battles with Marcel [Kiefer], racing with him is usually really good fun. But I think at the end of the day, on track, you have no friends. What happens off track isn’t on track. You’re racing to win, it’s as simple as that.

OverTake: Is there a message you would like to send out to your fans or your competitors?

Lucas Blakeley:

People sometimes don’t realise it, but any support that I receive means more than people can realise. A nice comment or a nice message can really pick you up. Any support that I’ve received before the season, during the season, people that are loyal to me – they don’t realise how grateful I am for it. I don’t always state it, but to anyone that’s been part of my journey: I’m grateful for all the support.

For the competitors, I look forward to having a fantastic showdown. I’m going to dub it as the most anticipated F1 Esports event in history. We have a 5-way title fight, not many championships can say that! Hopefully it is going to be clean, that’s all I really ask. But anything can happen and it probably will. Best of luck to everybody involved.

Do you think Lucas will be able to become the F1 Esports champion? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!

My name is Jacob and I have been writing for OverTake since November of 2020. I come from the UK, but I'm now living in Berlin. I love to watch, write about and sometimes shout about all forms of racing.