With the final F1 Esports event starting today, we caught up with McLaren’s Bari Boroumand.
Image credit: Codemasters / EA
The F1 Esports season is coming to a close later this week with the finale taking place on Friday 16 December. Heading into the last event, five drivers are realistically in with a shout of the championship: Haas rookie Thomas Ronhaar, Red Bull’s Frederik Rasmussen, Mercedes’ reigning champion Jarno Opmeer and McLaren duo Lucas Blakeley and Bari Boroumand.
Blakeley goes into the finale with an 11 point lead on Ronhaar, 14 on Boroumand, 17 on Rasmussen and 22 on Opmeer. With 78 points on offer, it could go any way.
Long Time Coming
Bardia ‘Bari’ Boroumand was always believed to be capable of challenging for the F1 Esports Pro Championship title. He first made an impression in the Pro Exhibition races supporting the Virtual Grand Prix events in early 2020. He raced for Alfa Romeo and, in only his second race, he took pole position and finished the race P2.
Mercedes drafted him for the Pro Championship but underutilised him, instead prioritising 2-time champion Brendon Leigh and 5-time Formula SimRacing champion Bono Huis. In his only outing for the team – which came as a result of Huis having hardware issues – he just fell short of scoring a point.
Considering Boroumand became the only consistent challenger to champion Jarno Opmeer across many independent leagues, it was a shame he didn’t race full time in the Pro Championship. In 2021 though, he got his break.
Signing for McLaren Shadow, he took two pole positions and two podium finishes, and finished the season in fifth. This made him the highest placed finisher of the drivers who didn’t win a race. That first win wouldn’t come for another year. This season, Boroumand finally got that illustrious debut victory when he held off the onslaught of a fired up Frederik Rasmussen in the Spa-Francorchamps race.
Together with Lucas Blakeley, McLaren are already pretty much team’s champions. But with the final races coming up, they’re the only pair of teammates that both stand a chance of winning.
Before the final event, we had the chance to talk to Bari and get his perspective on what has been perhaps the best F1 Esports season yet.
OverTake: How do you feel the season has gone for you so far?
The season has been good so far I would say, though it could be better but it could also have been worse. I already have more points than I did last year, so I’ll take it!
OverTake: Describe how much of a weight off your shoulders it was to finally come away with a race win in the Pro Championship.
I never want to put too much pressure on myself, I always just go in thinking it’s any old race. But it’s difficult to do that, it’s not easy to forget the significance of what you’re doing, competing in F1’s officially sanctioned championship.
Ultimately we always do our best and hopefully it goes well. We celebrate afterwards and it feels amazing.
OverTake: Seeing your new teammate Lucas Blakeley be so consistent and at the top of the championship, how does it contribute to the dynamic within the team?
I’d say it has honestly been really nice, we work very well together! He had a very good first event and it was the complete opposite for me. In the end, Lucas has been really good and that has subsequently led me to making big improvements as well, since we’re always very competitive with each other.
OverTake: Both you and Lucas began in F1 Esports as the third driver in your respective teams. What should all hopeful F1 Esports prospects be prepared for if they have to take a backseat at first?
I think when you’re the third driver, you always want to drive. No competitor wants to be on the sidelines not getting their chance. But you just have to do your best and try to beat the two lead drivers in practice, and prove that you have the ability and the reliability.
We have that with [McLaren 3rd driver Wilson Hughes], who we know is a fast guy. He keeps us on our toes.
OverTake: Heading into the final round, what’s the plan? Are you full attack to try to win the title yourself or will you help out your teammate who has a better chance?
Obviously we’re looking at tactics with the team but we will see what scenarios we’re faced with. Can’t reveal too much though!
Make sure to tune in to the Suzuka, Interlagos and Yas Marina F1 Esports races throughout this week. The first race takes place today at 6:30pm CET. On Thursday and Friday qualifying is 4:30pm CET and the races are at 8:30pm CET. Coverage is streamed to F1’s official YouTube and Twitch channels.
Will you be following the F1 Esports final event? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!