Red Bull take championship lead as 2020 F1 Esports hits halfway point
Red Bull Racing Esports Team took a commanding lead of the teams’ championship on Thursday night, with a teamwork-defining race showing the squad at full strength.
The ever-jubilant Marcel Kiefer was able to take his first win of the 2020 F1 Esports Pro Series, presented by Aramco. The German ace led home team mate Frede Rasmussen by barely a quarter of a second, as the pair resisted late pressure from championship leader Jarno Opmeer, who completed the podium. The Dutchman therefore maintains his 100% podium record, and drivers’ championship lead.
Bulls on parade
The Red Bull Ring has historically been kind to its home team. Red Bull Racing have won there twice in the real world, and in 2020, they got to sample a virtual victory as well. Kiefer and Rasmussen locked out the second row of the grid, but no one could compete with Alvaro Carreton’s pole time, with the Spaniard the only driver to drop below the 1m2s benchmark.
He led away into Turn 1, but the Red Bulls quickly engulfed Opmeer, who started second on the grid with his slower medium tyres. It wasn’t too long before the duo started hunting down Carreton’s lead, and on Lap 7 they executed a flawless pincer movement.
From that point, it was a case of giving one another the benefit of slipstream, in an effort to forestall the inevitable wrath of Opmeer’s late-race speed injection. The Dutchman has made the strategy work in every other race this season, winning the first, third and fifth rounds using a medium-to-soft-strategy.
The contra strategy has been stunningly effective in 2020. The aforementioned trio of wins is hard to look past, and Austria saw the majority of runners try things this way round. Its potency was however neutralised, both by the nature of the circuit, and the cunning of the Red Bull drivers.
Opmeer managed to dispatch Carreton and Longuet, who were the only other two – save for the Red Bulls – to adopt the traditional strategy starting on the soft tyres. But these two were lone wolves, with their team mates further down the order. The pack mentality of Kiefer and Rasmussen gave them a unique advantage over Opmeer.
Simon Weigang picked up his first points of the season, grabbing sixth position after an excellent qualifying session. It was the end of a points streak for Joni Tormala though, with the Finn having recorded a top-10 finish in every race up until Austria. Elsewhere it was happy hunting for BWT Racing Point F1 Esports team, with Lucas Blakeley and Daniele Haddad recording a double-points finish in P7 and P9, and the former picking up honours for the Aramco Driver of the Day.
Red Bull Racing Esports overpower Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN F1 Esports Team in the battle for team supremacy, accruing a mighty total of 185 points. Alfa are not too much further back, with 160, and Renault Vitality lead a group of teams vying for the midfield.
In the drivers’ championship, Opmeer marginally increases his lead over Kiefer to 27 points, with Rasmussen just seven points back from him. Dani Bereznay drops to fifth after a somewhat quiet event by his standards, with Tormala and Carreton next in line. Champions David Tonizza and Brendon Leigh are lower down the top 10 than you might expect, with McLaren Shadow’s Dani Moreno completing the table.
Until next itme
And just like that, we’re halfway through the 2020 Pro Series! After six races, the action just keeps on coming. Next time out will see the championship race around a trio of classic European venues, beginning with Silverstone Circuit, home of the British Grand Prix. Then it’s across the channel for a romp around Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, before Italy’s Monza wraps things up.
The good news is that there are just two weeks until then, with the event falling across November 18-19. And once again, we’ll have four streams, with qualifying live on Twitch and YouTube from 1530 GMT on both days. This will be followed by the full race stream later at 1930, on Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, and with our broadcast partners on TV… see you there!