Mercedes’ Jarno Opmeer in pole position to retain World Championship crown in three-way title race for 2021 F1 Esports Series Pro Championship
Reigning champion Jarno Opmeer will go into going the Grand Final of the 2021 F1 Esports Series Pro Championship presented by Aramco leading the Drivers’ Championship, ahead of Lucas Blakeley and Frede Rasmussen, after this week’s thrilling Event 3. Just as the real-life Constructors’ Championship is finely poised, Mercedes and Red Bull are neck and neck in the Teams’ title fight, after the latest trio of races.
Event 3 began with drivers taking to Portimao, for the first time in Pro Championships history, to battle the ‘rollercoaster’ circuit, with its huge undulations and fast straights. Blakeley had a front row seat from off, starting P1 on the grid and dominating the field throughout, racing clear of the chasing pack and only relinquishing the lead when he came into pit, as he continued to show his championship credentials. Rasmussen showed why he is also a strong contender for the crown, with an impressive performance on the alternative strategy, as he made his way through the field on the soft tyres towards the end to pick up an important second place finish for both his own title ambitions, and Red Bull’s. Fabrizio Donoso turned a great qualifying session, starting P4, into a second podium finish of the year for Alpine, rounding off the top three.
Mercedes were able to hit back as attentions turned to Zandvoort, as Dani Moreno took his maiden victory in the F1 Esports Series Pro Championship, ahead of Rasmussen, who scored his second P2 finish in a row. The pair had tussled for the lead throughout, as Rasmussen took the lead on Lap 1, but it was Moreno who prevailed late on taking P1 in the latter stages of the race, and withstanding the pressure from the following group. Blakeley secured another podium finish, his fifth of the year, with third place and Bari Boroumand continued his fine form in his debut season with McLaren, having secured pole in Zandvoort, and finishing just outside the podium places in P4.
Opmeer, who finished P7 and P6 in the previous races respectively, fought back with a huge victory at the Circuit of the Americas to reclaim top spot in the Drivers’ Championship, and make it back-to-back wins for Mercedes. Rasmussen made it a hat-trick of personal podiums in Event 3, with a P2 finish, putting him only eight points back from Opmeer in the standings. Nicolas Longuet secured his first podium since Round 1, whilst title contender Blakeley managed P6, adding crucial points to his tally and just five points off Opmeer.
It is still all to play for as we look towards this year’s Grand Final, which will take place on 15-16 December, and will feature races at Imola and Mexico, before the final race in Brazil, which has played host to many title deciders during the illustrious history of F1.
Drivers are continuing to race remotely from their homes or team facilities, as they did in the 2020 season, but the hugely popular competition continues to broadcast from the Gfinity Esports Arena in London. Following the same Event format as recent campaigns, teams battle it out on the official F1 2021 video game, developed by Codemasters, with the live shows are streamed online via official channels of Formula 1 on Facebook, YouTube, Twitch and Huya, as well as broadcast on television via select international broadcast partners.
F1 Esports events have achieved over 40 million views across TV and digital, in the last 18 months, and this popularity led to a record number of people attempting to be a part of this year’s Pro Exhibition, with almost half a million taking part in qualification. Qualification for next year’s competition is now open through a challenge in the official F1 2021 video game, with the second event live until 30th November.