11 new racers selected in 2020 F1 Esports Pro Draft
A night of intrigue, mystery, and perhaps destiny – the 2020 F1 Esports Pro Draft Reveal Show, presented by Aramco, has come and gone, with 11 drivers picked from the pool of 45 to join the Pro Series.
The 10 official F1 Esports teams have made their picks, and along with signed drivers, the grid for 2020 is now complete. Here’s who got called up on Thursday evening...
Haas: Simon Weigang
Haas F1 Team had first dibs from the pool of 45 drivers, and so were first to reveal their pick for 2020. Simon Weigang was the man for the job. He raced for Renault Vitality in 2019, and though he only got four outings in the Pro Series, he impressed, scoring 11 points in total.
He also had five outings in the F1 Esports Pro Exhibition races during lockdown, taking to the track twice for McLaren, and three times for Haas. This nugget of experience with the American outfit seems to have paid dividends, and he's more than earned his spot on the 2020 grid.
AlphaTauri: Manuel Biancolilla
The artist formerly known as Toro Rosso may have changed their name and appearance for 2020, but they're sticking with what they know in terms of personnel. Manuel Biancolilla was on the books with Toro Rosso Esports in 2019, although only had two runs on track, in Germany and Belgium, picking up a point in the latter.
Like Weigang above he also had a couple of Exhibition outings for McLaren Shadow during lockdown, before returning to familiar environs with a race for AlphaTauri in Canada. He'll be hoping for more time on-track with AlphaTauri to show what he can do when the season gets under way.
Mercedes: Bari Boroumand
Mercedes have work to do in 2020 if they are to regain the form they showed in their all-conquering 2018 season, and they'll be hoping that new recruit Bari Boroumand will help turn the tide. He took three wins during qualification, and even took a podium during one of three outings during the Pro Exhibition races for Alfa Romeo.
Outside of sim racing, he’s a seven-time national karting champion in his native Iran, and has experience of testing a Formula 4 car, in 2018. It’s not hard to see why Mercedes opted for a driver this talented and multifaceted.
BWT Racing Point: Shanaka Clay
BWT Racing Point Esports Team have a proven track record of challenging for wins. With close calls in 2018, a win for Marcel Kiefer in 2019, and Lucas Blakeley victorious in the Pro Exhibition Monaco race in 2020, the team continue to go from strength to strength.
They need to turn that form into title-challenging power this year, and they'll aim to do that with Shanaka Clay, who impressed massively in the Pro Exhibition. Clay rocked up for the final two races in Azerbaijan and Canada, grabbing points on his first outing, and stunning the field with a win in the latter.
With Blakeley finishing second in that race - technically the most recent F1 Esports race to take place - Racing Point have some sort of 1-2 finishing pair on their hands. Clay, Blakeley and Haddad could form a very powerful trio indeed.
McLaren Shadow: Dani Moreno
McLaren enter uncharted territory, selecting a relative newcomer to the F1 Esports Series in Spain’s Dani Moreno. A stroke of bad luck during qualification ruled him out of the 2019 Pro Draft, but this time around he’s ready to make amends, and repay the British team’s faith in him with some rapid pace on-track.
Williams: Michael Romanidis
Already familiar with Williams, Michael Romanidis joins their official three-person roster for 2020 as their Pro Draft pick. The Greece-born sim racer took part in five Pro Exhibition races for the British squad during lockdown, scoring in three in three of them.
He’s certainly not lacking in ambition, with his ultimate goal to be a part of a Formula 1 team in an engineering or managerial position. For now though, Williams will hope that his shoot-for-the-stars mindset does the job on the virtual track.
Renault Vitality: Fabrizio Donoso Delgado
Renault made a bold statement in securing the services of Fabrizio Donoso Delgado, a household name in sim racing, and runner up from the 2017 finale in Abu Dhabi. The Chilean racer had a stint with Racing Point Esports Team in 2018 but was unable to compete in the series last year.
In his year out, he’s sure to have practiced religiously, and is now poised to make his comeback with a new team.
For more information on the F1 Esports series, check out the official website here.
Renault Vitality: Casper Jansen
In addition to Donoso Delgado, Renault opted for a second bite of the cherry and picked a second draftee from the pool of 45; the only such team to do so. Casper Jansen was the man for the job, and the Dutchman will make his F1 Esports debut when the Pro Series gets under way in October.
Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen: Dominik Hofmann
Alfa Romeo had a fruitful 2019 Pro Series with three wins, and they’ll be hoping to add more with the signing of Austria’s Dominik Hofmann. He was a Pro Draft attendee in 2018, although didn’t get chosen at that time.
Much like Donoso above, Hofmann sat out 2019, and will be hoping to prove that Alfa Romeo made the right choice in signing him to their three-person roster for 2020.
FDA Hublot: Filip Presnajder
Slovakian by birth, and rapid by nature, Presnajder obliterated the competition in his path to qualification, taking four consecutive wins in the Challenger Series on PC.
This kind of ruthless speed was impossible to ignore for Ferrari Driver Academy Hublot Esports Team, and so he will join the Italian outfit as they embark on their second season of the F1 Esports Pro Series. Together they will be hunting down the teams’ championship, which proved elusive in 2019.
Red Bull: Tino Naukkarinen
Red Bull toppled the competition in last season’s teams’ championship, prevailing over FDA Hublot who scooped the drivers’ honours. If they are to defend their crown, they’ll need pace and experience in equal measure, and with that in mind, Tino Naukkarinen is the perfect complement to their already-solid outfit.
The Finn has the honour of being the first ever pick in the F1 Esports Pro Draft back in 2018, and has podiums to his name following a two-season spell at Williams. This move to Red Bull could see him reach even greater heights, alongside proven race-winners Frede Rasmussen and Marcel Kiefer.
Faces old and new then, are scattered among the team line-ups for the 2020 Pro Series. We’ll have to wait a while for curtain-raiser, with Round 1 set to take place on Wednesday October 14 around the Bahrain International Circuit.