Formula 1 Esports Series Pro 2022 Review
Formula 1 Esports Series Pro 2022 Review
We take you through all the highs and lows of the 2022 F1 Esports Series Pro Championship, where Lucas Blakeley’s ultra-consistency led him to a maiden title.
Good news, everyone!
As it happened exactly one year ago, my last piece of prose to hand in before the dawn of 2023 concerns the exciting Formula 1 Sports Series Pro Championship. Because one of the sim racing titles acts as a form of virtual competition, the series never seems to escape an inappropriate name. Many could take a career, which has almost no progress, and throw it into the recesses of their memories.
However, Formula 1 Sports has never had the opportunity to throw a barnstormer to sit back and enjoy. Like its real-world counterpart, the real joy of watching this championship comes from investing yourself in the season’s story. Compelling characters, some with rich histories and others with fates waiting, form a twisted narrative that never stops for too long.
Take, if you like, the September scenario as a good example; we are all on the cusp of a new season to enjoy. Now double and reigning champion Jarno Opmeer he was just one win away from (statistically speaking) becoming the most successful driver in the competition’s history.
Frederick Rasmussen once again he had failed to turn his undoubted speed into a drivers’ title, while Lucas Blakeley he had fully announced himself in the winners’ bracket of the race, but chose to move teams in the off-season.
These were the stories created by just three drivers. Moments of joy What seems impossible. Let’s break it all down.
As the first Formula 1 game of the Codemasters era to be released under Electronic Arts, no one knew what to expect once. F1 22 reach digital markets. However, when the team lineups were closed, there didn’t seem to be much support for a major shakeup of the pecking order.
Opmeer stayed with Mercedes and Rasmussen with Oracle Red Bull Racing Sports. Interestingly, Blakeley had moved to McLaren Shadow to partner Bardia Boroumand, which was arguably the most exciting catch for any team on paper. Only time would tell if it would alter the Scot’s momentum or propel him and his new home to greater heights.
An early benefit was that the Bahrain International Circuit played host to the first race; a track that Blakeley fondly remembered as the site of his first win twelve months earlier. Any doubters were immediately silenced when Lucas took win number one of 2022, quickly followed by a second at Imola.
Despite failing to achieve the three-peat, another visit to the podium in Great Britain put Blakeley firmly in the early championship landscape. Rasmussen’s first-round falters persisted for the fifth straight year, posting just an eighth to start his campaign. Opmeer, on the other hand, drove masterfully to second place after failing to score at Imola.
Undoubtedly, the unexpected revelation of the first races was, however, the appearance of Thomas Ronhaar. Haas Esports endured a torrid 2021 season where they narrowly escaped the humiliation of becoming the only team in the championship’s history to fail to pick up a single point.
Ronhaar represented a great roll of the dice, joining fellow rookie Piotr Stachulec and Matthijs van Erven, who himself only had twelve races under his belt.
Metaphorically speaking, I was incredibly close to being a natural twentysomething.
Stars of the future
Ronhaar can look back on this season as one where he was perhaps unlucky, perhaps too green. Right out of the gates, his pace really competed for pole positions. A retirement in Bahrain preceded a fourth-place finish before a maiden podium at Silverstone. It only took one more round before the win was in his pocket.
Unfortunately, as history had shown, you can’t afford to retire in a championship position. En route to a podium finish in the desert, a third-place finish would have put him within a shot of glory at the end of the year. As it stands, the new Dutchman in town has fired an almighty warning shot indicating his ambitions for 2023.
Boroumand’s sophomore season built on solid foundations laid in 2021. A big win in Belgium ignited a string of blistering results that raised eyebrows. Unfortunately for the Iranian, he also found himself out of the points during the first series of events. Blakeley was properly prioritized at key times.
Josh Idowu can also be counted as a driver with the rapidly rising stock. The Welshman was Boroumand’s teammate at McLaren in 2020, with the dubious honor of taking pole position during the winless season. While that first win still eludes Idowu, three podiums for Alpha Tauri represents a fantastic return when he competed in just eight of the twelve races.
The ones that shined the most
All the moderately competitive drivers in this competition tend to have their day. Brendon Leigh and Daniel Bereznay probably appreciate it more. Both enjoyed better seasons for their respective teams; Leigh entered his second year at Ferrari while Bereznay returned Alfa Romeo after a car accident with McLaren. However, we all remember when this duo lit up the 2018 season.
Both could, once again, feel pressure to keep their seats.
While that won’t be the case for Jarno Opmeer, his star has certainly faded a bit. For a long time, many of us sat wondering if Leigh’s record wins would be broken in 2022. Perhaps that was silly given his Bahrain podium, but then six races passed where the Dutch recorded two shutouts and a best result in the fourth.
Back-to-back wins in Mexico and the United States rekindled hopes in some corners of a miraculous end to the season, only for a desperate retreat in Japan to put the final nail in the coffin. It will be recalled that Opmeer’s second title defense was a no match. At times we saw brutally dominant force, but at other times we saw shocking Q1 eliminations.
Rasmussen, on the other hand, will wonder if the stars will ever align for him. For the second consecutive year, twice Formula E: Acceleration Champion is eight points behind the title winner. Eight points that could easily have been found in Bahrain or, most poignantly, in Mexico City, where a rare moment of madness cost him dearly.
The newly crowned champion is of course Lucas Blakeley, potentially the most popular F1 Esports title winner. There is something so honest about Blakeley; a bold determination that makes you want to root for him as a neutral. Had it not been for the unassailable form of his two 2021 title rivals, he would have been much closer to his points that year.
This time, it was his form that had to be unassailable. Although just two more wins after his maiden triumph at the event, in the Netherlands and Brazil, those races where he failed to secure a podium finish were impressive. Not a single finish below sixth place was why Blakeley claimed glory this time.
And yet, this knowledge in itself only serves to get us excited for the coming year. With new threats emerging, Blakeley may have to up his game again to retain his crown throughout 2023. History certainly doesn’t favor him. After two years of Leigh, David Tonizza arrived. After Tonizza came two years of Opmeer.
Will the trend continue? I can’t wait to find out.
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