David Tonizza takes title in 2019 New Balance Esports Pro Series Grand Final
The 2019 F1 New Balance Esports Pro Series live Grand Final took place this evening, at the Gfinity Esports Arena in London as the season came to a close. It was a night of dramatic racing action and team rivalry to cap off the biggest-ever season since launching in 2017.
All 10 of the official F1 Esports teams and their drivers put on a brilliant show as they battled it out on the night to win both the Teams’ and Drivers’ Championships. In the end, it was Red Bull Racing Esports who took the Teams’ Championship title and the lion’s share of the largest ever $500,000 prize fund, with Ferrari Driver Academy Hublot Esports team’s David Tonizza, who was selected from the pro draft, clinching the Drivers’ Championship for the first time, whilst Toro Rosso Esports Team’s Patrik Holzmann won the DHL’s Fastest Lap award.
Competition was intense, with four of the official F1 Esports teams: Red Bull Racing Esports, Ferrari Driver Academy Hublot Esports Team, Renault Sport Team Vitality and Alfa Romeo Racing F1 Esports Team coming into the Grand Final with a shot of claiming their first ever F1 Esports Series Teams’ Championship title. It was equally competitive in the Drivers’ Championship standings as well, with Frederik Rasmussen (Red Bull), Jarno Opmeer (Renault) and Daniel Bereznay (Alfa Romeo) all having a mathematical chance of catching David Tonizza (Ferrari) at the top of the standings coming into the event. With Brendon Leigh being out of contention, it meant that going into the Grand Final, F1 Esports would see a brand-new Drivers' Champion for the first time.
The first race of the night, and the tenth of the Pro Series, saw the drivers take on one of the oldest circuits on the calendar, Suzuka, Japan. After a relatively poor qualifying result, Brendon Leigh had a flying start with three passes on the first lap to move from P13 to P7 with some front-runners opting for first lap stops, however not enough to take on the likes of Rasmussen and Lucas Blakeley who took P1 and P2. After being held up in pit traffic, Tonizza dropped from 3rd to 5th and was unable to close the gap on Toro Rosso’s Holzmann, who took P3.
The penultimate Grand Prix of the evening was held at the home of F1 in the USA, the Circuit of the Americas.
Rasmussen had a good start, defending challenges from Daniel Bereznay and Enzo Bonito and remained strong throughout, collecting his second win of the evening, moving him into the lead of the Drivers’ Championship, four points clear of Tonizza. Bonito finished in second place with defending champion, Brendon Leigh, rounding out at P3.
However, a victory for Rasmussen was enough to secure the Teams’ Championship for Red Bull with one race to go, who lead the standings by 69 points.
The final race of the series was set at Interlagos, Sao Paulo, and much like Suzuka, this was the first time the Pro Series has raced at the iconic circuit. With all to play for in the Drivers’ Championship and a share of the $500,000, drivers went head to head to win the ultimate title. Keeping the audience on tender hooks, Tonizza made a great start with Rasmussen and Blakeley hot on his tail, however despite losing points in the first and second race of the night Tonizza was not about to let the championship slip away and secured P2, resulting in the title win.
The live Grand Final was streamed online via Facebook, YouTube, Twitch and Huya, as well as broadcast on global television by broadcast partners such as ESPN (USA), Sky (UK), Ziggo (Netherlands), MTV (Finland) and Fox (Australia), reaching F1 fans and esports fans across the globe. For more information, please visit www.f1esports.com
Julian Tan, Head of Digital Business Initiatives & Esports at Formula 1 said:
“Starting from 109,000 hopefuls, we now have our Driver Champion of the 2019 F1 Esports Series. I want to congratulate David Tonizza for overcoming all challenges in what has been our most competitive season to date.
“Tonizza is a prime example of the living room to podium story that is at the heart of this programme, as we continue to use esports to break borders into our magnificent sport and redefine what it means to be part of the world of Formula 1. This season is a momentous season not only because we have set a record prize fund, but also because we have, for the first time ever, all ten official F1 teams participating, making Red Bull’s victory in the Teams’ Championship truly rewarding. Congratulations to them for the amazing achievement in the 2019 F1 Esports Series and to all teams and drivers for putting on the greatest virtual racing spectacle on the planet. I can’t wait to see what the 2020 F1 Esports Series has in store.”
Frank Sagnier, CEO at Codemasters, said:
“On behalf of everyone at Codemasters, I want to congratulate Tonizza on his maiden win in the F1 Esports Series and Red Bull Racing Esports Team on taking the Team Championship. With 109,000 players trying to earn a roster spot, Season 3 has been the most competitive to date and has highlighted how much talent is out there. We can’t wait to see what happens in Season 4 and, if the Challenger Series is anything to go by, it promises to be even more exciting.”
Graham Wallace, Global Chief Operating Officer at Gfinity, said:
“Excitement levels have been taken to new heights this season. The skills of the drivers and the quality of the racing goes from strength to strength. Formula 1 made the decision early to embrace the potential of esports and is now being rewarded with increased participation and viewership. It has created a new exhilarating product and revenue stream in the virtual space. Bring on the 2020 F1 esports season!”
For more information on the F1 Esports Series visit www.f1esports.com.