Opmeer wins at COTA to set up three-way grand final fight in F1 Esports Series Pro Championship
Mercedes driver Jarno Opmeer struck back in Round 9 of the 2021 F1 Esports Series Pro Championship presented by Aramco to claim his third win in 2021 and re-take the lead of the drivers’ championship.
After an off-key showing in Portimao and Zandvoort, Opmeer mustered his title-winning form of last year as Circuit of The Americas made its return to the calendar. Watch the highlights in the player above.
Round 7 and 8 recap
Opmeer’s win came at the right time. Being reigning champion carries a heavy burden – and finishing seventh and sixth in the previous two races is considered a below-par performance.
The first race of the event in Portimao saw Lucas Blakeley absolutely run away with the win, creating a huge gap to those behind him and crossing the line ahead of the midfield melee to score his second win of 2021.
READ MORE: Blakeley storms into F1 Esports Series Pro Championship lead after thrillers in Portimao and Zandvoort
Meanwhile in Zandvoort, it was Mercedes man Dani Moreno who prevailed, taking his maiden win in F1 Esports and becoming the 12th different driver to take the podium.
You can catch up on all of Wednesday’s action here, and relive the action from Round 7 and Round 8 in the video below.
The return to COTA
Absent from the 2020 calendar, the Circuit of The Americas returns for this season. The scene of Brendon Leigh’s 2018 title win, it’s got a decent amount of history in F1 Esports, and the drivers all relish it.
That much was proved in qualifying, with just one thousandth of a second splitting the top two. Nicolas Longuet was the man who put it into P1, snatching pole for the first time since Round 1, ahead of Bari Boroumand.
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Off the line, Longuet was bested by his McLaren rival as Boroumand took the lead on his soft tyres, with the majority of the field starting on medium rubber. Longuet was soon joined by fellow soft rubber user Brendon Leigh, who started P10 but who had made it up to second by the start of Lap 4.
However, the cracking start was too good to be true for the pair, who were Mercedes stablemates in 2020. Longuet, who Leigh had passed for second, soon re-passed him for P2 as Lap 7 came around, just before the pit stop phase came into play.
Leading trio Boroumand, Longuet and Leigh came in on Lap 9, as did the majority of the pack, leaving David Tonizza to take the lead briefly.
Armed with fresh medium tyres, Frede Rasmussen was the man on the move, and he made a stupendous double overtake on Lap 10 to get past both Brendon Leigh and Lucas Blakelely, and up into a net fourth place.
Rasmussen’s ascendency was mirrored by Boroumand, who soon found himself dropping down the order on the unfancied soft-medium strategy. With no answer to the superior grip of the soft tyres, Boroumand slipped from the net lead of the race as Opmeer got by on Lap 11, swiftly followed by Longuet just a couple of laps later.
Lap 15 rolled around and Rasmussen further relegated Boroumand to fourth, setting up the podium places for a showdown sprint to the flag. Longuet appeared content to sit behind Opmeer for the time being, waiting to deploy the now-commonplace last lap overtake which has been so effective in 2021. Longuet, though, couldn’t wait, as excitement got the better of him and he jumped past Opmeer on the penultimate lap.
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This was to be his undoing, and after a scruffy first sector, he unwittingly let both Opmeer and Rasmussen past in the hopes of gaining DRS. But he mistimed the move, and was powerless to catch them on the back straight.
Opmeer brought it home for his third win of 2021, with Rasmussen taking a third consecutive second-placed finish. Longuet came home third, with Boroumand holding firm in fourth despite his tyre disadvantage. Tonizza, Blakeley, Moreno, Alvaro Carreton, Marcel Kiefer and Sebastian Job completed the points.
Opmeer now heads the drivers’ standings with 140 points, but is just five points ahead of nearest rival Blakeley, on 135. Rasmussen is then a further three behind, meaning the top three are separated by just eight points. Dani Moreno (82) and Bari Boroumand (80) are further down the road in the battle for fourth, with Marcel Kiefer on 67.
In the teams’ standings, Mercedes have a haul of 222 points, giving them a nice buffer to Red Bull, who are on 199. Aston Martin (144) and Alpine (107) are the other two teams to break into triple figures, with McLaren and FDA fighting for fifth, on 80 and 78 points respectively.
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Next up: the grand final
Unbelievably, we’re already almost at journey’s end of the 2021 F1 Esports Series Pro Championship presented by Aramco.
The final event is just a few weeks away, taking place after the 2021 F1 season draws to its own thrilling conclusion. We’ll be racing around Imola, Mexico City and Interlagos, celebrating raw speed with twisty intrigue in equal measure.
Join us on December 15-16 for qualifying streams from 1530 UTC, and race streams from 1930, as we crown our champions. Who do you think will be victorious? Let us know on social, by getting involved with the conversation using #F1Esports.