The second round of the F1 New Balance Esports Pro Series 2019 packed in plenty of drama and excitement last night at London’s Gfinity Esports Arena. All ten Formula 1 teams were represented, and flying the flag for Toro Rosso Esports Team were once again sim racers Patrik Holzmann and Cem Bolukbasi.
Canada. Qualifying at the Montreal circuit was closely contested with very small time gaps in the pack. Our two drivers posted very similar lap times but, even though there was just over a tenth of a second between them, Patrik qualified ninth and Cem was 18th. In the race, the rain arrived unexpectedly, shaking up the strategy for everyone. Bolukbasi seized the moment and stopped immediately to fit intermediate tyres, while Holzmann stayed out for one more lap before switching to full wets. Unfortunately, the track did not get wet enough and so Patrik struggled as his tyres were the wrong choice for the track conditions. Cem managed to move up the order so that they crossed the line in each other’s starting positions, Cem P9 and Patrik P18.
Austria. The Spielberg race was particularly tough for the Toro Rosso duo as neither Patrik nor Cem got clean laps in Qualifying and had to start down the back of the field. When the lights went out, Holzmann was the innocent victim of an accident and had to start over from last place. He still ran at a good pace however, making the most of any opportunities that came his way to finish 12th. Cem’s race was also complicated: running a different tyre strategy he managed to move up to 11th, but then again dropped down the order following a crash.
Great Britain. Contrasting fortunes for our drivers at Silverstone which starting with Qualifying. Patrik managed to secure a place on the second row, but Cem encountered traffic on his flying lap and started from the penultimate row. Their race pace however was encouraging and it looked like there was every chance of getting two cars into the top ten. Bolukbasi opted for an aggressive strategy, pitting early to change tyres and managed to undercut many of his closest rivals, thus ending up in the points. As for Patrik, he fought hard which saw him take the chequered flag in sixth place. He made just one mistake, but it cost him dearly; the Stewards spotted that he had slightly cut a corner and gave him a three-second time penalty added to his final race time. It was a cold shower for our German sim racer, who dropped from sixth to 11th.
Patrik Holzmann (Germany)
Round 4 – Canada (Montreal): P18
Round 5 – Austria (Spielberg): P12
Round 6 – Great Britain (Silverstone): P11
Driver Standings: P17 – 4 points
“In Montreal, I qualified well and started P8. Then it started to rain in the race which was a bit chaotic and we took the wrong tyres at the pit stop. It was a wrong strategy call and we were slowest, so, unfortunately, we didn’t score any points. In Austria, I started outside the top ten, but there was still a chance to get good points. Then I got involved in a big crash at the start, hit in the back and got spun around and that was pretty much race over. For Race 3 at Silverstone, I started a promising fourth on the grid and had good pace in the first stint. Then, I got stuck in the pits and couldn’t be released out on track because cars were coming down the pit lane. That meant I lost touch with the leaders. I finished sixth which is a bit frustrating when you start on the same row as the race winner. Even more annoying, I got a penalty for apparently cutting a corner very slightly, and even though it was just three seconds, with the racing so close it dropped me to eleventh, meaning no points. I’ll put that behind me and focus on the next event.”
Cem Bolukbasi (Turkey)
Round 4 – Canada (Montreal): P9
Round 5 – Austria (Spielberg): P18
Round 6 – Great Britain (Silverstone): P9
Driver Standings: P19 – 4 points
“Qualifying for Canada was tricky and I had to start P18. The race started dry but then it went to wet. We took a big risk and pitted one lap earlier than everyone else and it paid off, gaining seven positions in one lap and then I overtook one more driver to finish ninth, which was good damage limitation from 18th on the grid. In Austria, I got blocked on my fast Quali lap and had to start P16. In the race, we tried to undercut people and that moved me up to eleventh. Then there was a big crash and that moved me back to 15th so unfortunately, I didn’t score any points. In Silverstone, I got blocked again on my fast lap in Qualifying so I started P17. I took big risks, starting on the Medium tyre, changed to the Softs on the third lap and another undercut meant I moved up to 10th and scored some points. Hopefully, at the next event, we can do better in Qualifying”.
Team Standings: P10 – 8 points