After a packed empirical F1 schedule in North America, yesterday attention turned to the virtual world and the latest event in the F1 Esports Pro Series, held at the Gfinity Esports Arena in London.
Joni Törmälä and Graham Carroll were once again representing the Red Bull Racing Esports Team, and the pair maintained our third place in the Constructors’ Championship with a strong run of points finishes as the series visited a virtual Circuit Paul Ricard, Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps.
The day didn’t start particularly well with Joni finishing ninth and Graham 11th in the first 13-lap race at Ricard, but steady progress was made at Silverstone, with Graham finishing eighth and Joni ninth. The best result of the event was, however, saved for last. While Graham secured tenth and the final points position at Spa, Joni had a storming race to the podium, including a last-lap pass around the outside at Les Combes right on the ragged edge, that secured second place at the flag.
“The race went pretty much perfectly from start to finish,” said Joni. “Starting sixth was OK but I managed to gain four positions – and P2 is my best finish of the season so I’m very happy with that.”
While our Finnish driver was happy with his efforts, Scotsman Graham was in a more reflective mood after a day which didn’t go entirely as he wished.
“It wasn’t there today,” he concluded. “Not the best of days but we got some points in the end. I should have had P6 in France but only have myself to blame after a silly mistake led to a penalty. After that the two qualifying sessions were a bit of a nightmare but I came through the field to score points in both, which is the main thing. We’ll come back stronger next time.”
The results leave Joni fifth and Graham tenth in the Drivers’ Championship standings, while the team retains third position, one point ahead of Force India. With a clean sweep of victories, Mercedes extended their advantage at the top of the table but a strong showing from Toro Rosso sees our sister team consolidate second position.
Guest of honour at the Gfinity Arena was Christian Horner, our team principal paying his first visit to an Esports event.
“I’ve heard so much about Esports, I thought it was time I came and found out what it was all about,” said Christian. “This is the first tournament I’ve been to and great to see how well attended and presented it is.
“What I’ve seen of the racing is great. It’s obviously a lot cheaper when the drivers crash – and the engines don’t tend to break down! It looks a lot of fun, it’s highly competitive and you can see that these drivers are really pushing the boundaries – and the great thing is all the cars are pretty similar."
The final sequence of races will take place on the 16-17 November at the Gfinity Arena with everything to play for as the 2018 F1 Esports Pro Series reaches its dramatic conclusion.