Last night saw the final round of the New Balance F1Esports Pro Series 2019 take place at London’s Gfinity Esports Arena. All ten Formula 1 teams were represented and it was another night of excitement and close wheel to wheel action as drivers battled it out for the title in the third edition of the virtual F1 World Championship.
As usual, there were three races on the programme, this time in Japan, the USA and Brazil. It’s been a difficult season for our drivers, but there was a highpoint yesterday, as Patrik Holzmann finished third in the Suzuka race. On top of that, the young German set the fastest race lap in Austin, the fourth time in 12 races he has achieved that this season and, as a result, he wins the DHL Fastest Lap Award, as a reward for his speed over a single lap. Congratulations go to Ferrari’s David Tonizza, who is this year’s F1 Esports World Champion and Red Bull Racing Esports, who took the constructors’ prize.
Japan. The first race on the card, the tenth of the year, saw the sim racers tackle one of the all time classic Formula 1 track, at Suzuka. Mixed fortunes for Scuderia Toro Rosso Esports in qualifying: Holzmann was P6, but Bolukbasi could do no better than 15th. In the race, Patrik went for an aggressive strategy, pitting at the end of the opening lap to switch from medium to soft tyres to run to the flag. His pace saw him undercut several drivers resulting in a well deserved third place at the flag. Cem had a tougher time of it and even though he made up some ground he finished just outside the points in 11th place.
USA. The penultimate race of the year saw the virtual racers tackle the Circuit of the Americas in Texas. Qualifying was only average, with Holzmann seventh and Bolukbasi 13th, but there was still a realistic chance of making up for it in the race. However, it was not to be: Rasmussen won for Red Bull Racing Esports, while our drivers struggled with penalties and technical problems which dropped them to the back of the pack. At last Patrik had the consolation, as previously mentioned of taking the fastest race lap.
Brazil. The very last race of 2019 took place at Interlagos. No doubt our drivers were buoyed by memories of Pierre Gasly’s amazing drive to second place in the real Brazilian GP only a few weeks ago and were hoping to emulate him. But on a short track like the one in Sao Paulo, with very close gaps and no room for error, the race turned out to be harder than expected. Holzmann started from P9 and was stuck behind the leading group right to the end, crossing the line in eighth place. Manuel Biancolilla had a tough race, standing in for Bolukbasi for this final race. The Italian sim racer started and finished in P18.
Patrik Holzmann (Germany)
Round 10 – Japan (Suzuka): P3
Round 11 – USA (Austin): P19
Round 12 – Brazil (Sao Paolo): P8
Driver Standings: P14 – 30 points
“At Suzuka, qualifying was close and I started P6. We took an aggressive gamble on the strategy and we gained positions moving up to P3, then I was side by side with a chance to go second on the last lap but it didn’t work out, third was a much needed podium. On the COTA track, I started P7 but unfortunately I was hit by another car and had to make an extra stop to change the front wing. So, we decided to make an extra stop and try and go for the DHL award for the fastest lap, which I did, so we made the best out of it. So we finished out of the points but with the fastest lap. Then finally in Sao Paulo I had a tricky qualifying in the rain. Again I took an aggressive gamble and pitted on lap 1 but everyone did the same so I was stuck in a train of cars and finished P8, three seconds off the race win. At least it was nice to get a few more points. Plus, I got the DHL Award for the most fastest laps this season.”
Cem Bolukbasi (Turkey)
Round 10 – Japan (Suzuka): P11
Round 11 – USA (Austin): DNF
Driver Standings: P21 – 4 points
“The first race was a tough one and I qualified P15 and tried to do our best with the strategy. There was a long train from second to 19th and I wasn’t able to overtake, finishing just outside the points. Then in Austin, I qualified P13 and we had a good strategy, with the pace looking good, but an issue in the pits cost me 7 seconds and that put me out of the game. I think we’ll be back stronger next year.”
Manuel Biancolilla (Italy)
Round 12 – Brazil (Sao Paolo): P18
Driver Standings: P22 – 1 point
“I got an unlucky lap in qualifying and was P18 as it started to rain on my lap. I had a good first lap in the race but I broke my front wing and lost time in the pits. If it hadn’t been for that I could have finished around tenth.”