They’re busy winning titles in the real world – and Mercedes aren’t doing too badly in the virtual one either, after Mercedes AMG Petronas Esports’ Brendon Leigh secured two race wins out of three at the second event of the 2018 F1 New Balance Esports Pro Series.
Just a week after Lewis Hamilton was crowned world champion for a fifth time at the Mexican Grand Prix, Leigh put in another assured display at London’s Gfinity Esports Arena, securing victory at both the Circuit Paul Ricard (albeit after some controversy, which we’ll get to…) and Silverstone, while a fifth place at Spa-Francorchamps helped the British driver to a commanding 43-point advantage over Toro Rosso’s Frederik Rasmussen in the Drivers’ Championship.
Leigh’s efforts, as he seeks to repeat his title success of last year, also helped his Mercedes AMG Petronas Esports squad stretch their lead in the Teams’ Championship to 208 points, with Toro Rosso Esports Team second on 137 and Red Bull Racing Esports third with 59.
HIGHLIGHTS: F1 New Balance Esports Series 2018 - Live Event Two
In the first race of the event at the Circuit Paul Ricard, Leigh and Rasmussen made contact with just two laps to go while battling for the lead, the Dane coming off worse in the encounter and getting overtaken by his team mate Patrik Holzmann for good measure. Leigh was initially given a five-second penalty as a result of the contact, but the decision was later reversed by the stewards, handing him the win.
Silverstone was the stage for the second race of the event, and the continuation of the fierce battle between Leigh and Rasmussen. Once Hype Energy eForce India’s Donoso Delgado had been taken out of the race victory equation after receiving a penalty for speeding in the pit lane, it was left to Leigh and Rasmussen to fight for glory. The Mercedes driver eventually won out, securing his fourth win of the year, followed home by Rasmussen in second, while the podium was rounded out by Hype Energy eForce India’s Marcel Kiefer.
The final race took place at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps. With Mercedes AMG Petronas Esports’ Daniel Bereznay out in front by some margin, an intense battle for the remaining podium places developed on the final lap.
Red Bull Racing Esports Team’s Joni Tormala eventually took second after Donoso Delgado was given a penalty for exceeding track limits. Rasmussen stole third in the four-way battle across the line, with Sauber F1 Esports Team’s Salih Saltunc taking fourth from Leigh on the final straight.
The teams and drivers will now look forward to the F1 New Balance Esports Pro Series’ Grand Final, taking place on November 16 and 17 at London’s Gfinity Esports Arena, as they compete to win the coveted prize fund of $200,000, allocated to the teams based on their positions in the team standings.
But if Leigh brings his Hamilton-esque confidence and elan behind the wheel to the final rounds, it looks as though it will be a very tall order for any other driver to deny the Brit from being crowned champion for a second straight year.
Click here for more information on the F1 New Balance Esports Pro Series.