In just its second season of competition, the Red Bull Racing Esports Team has been crowned 2019 F1 Esports champions after winning two of the final three races of the season. The title wins see the Team pick up the top prize of $500,000.
Going into the final event of the campaign the Bulls led the team standings on 181 points, 35 clear of chief rivals Ferrari Driver Academy, with Renault Vitality a point further back. However, with 132 points on the table at the final round anything was possible.
But thanks to dominant victories at Japan’s Suzuka Circuit and at the Circuit of the Americas in the USA, Drivers’ title contender Frederik Rasmussen put the Bulls well beyond reach and the teams’ title was secured with 62 points in hand over Ferrari.
Congratulating the Esports Team on a season in which they took three wins, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner said: “It’s a fantastic achievement for the Red Bull Racing Esports Team to win the Championship in only its second year. The level of competition has been extremely high and just like in the real world our drivers have really had to deliver consistently at every event to come out with the teams’ title. Congratulations to everybody involved and we’re very proud to have won the championship.”
Despite victory in the opening two races of the final round at London’s G-Finity Arena Rasmussen endured a tough end to the campaign after missing out on title glory in the final race.
Not originally selected to contest the final race, Rasmussen only got behind the wheel at Brazil’s Interlagos after his COTA had given a slim four-point lead over arch-rival David Tonizza of Ferrari. Nicolas Longuet, who was set to start alongside Joni Tormala, stepped aside and the Team gave Rasmussen the chance to battle for title glory.
However, with no practice around the tricky Interlagos circuit under his belt and with qualifying complicated by rain, Rasmussen ended up seventh on the grid while Tonizza took pole. Looking to recover in the race the Dane went for an aggressive strategy that saw him pit for soft tyres at the end of lap one of the 18 scheduled. The gamble failed to pay off and the Danish Red Bull driver ended his season with 10th, while Tonizza finished second to lift the Drivers’ crown.
Despite the disappointment Rasmussen admitted afterwards that taking the team title was a huge moment. “It feels good,” he said.
The Dane paid tribute to his teammates, too, saying that Tormala and Longuet had been instrumental in bringing home the team title.
“Joni and Nicolas have been great, a big help and I couldn’t have done it without them. Joni did so much set-up, it’s insane the amount of hours of practice. Nicolas, as well. He did great in his race. A lot of hours and practice have gone into this. There’s been a lot of effort from team managers too, at the boot camp and beyond.”
Pro Draft pick Longuet was also delighted with a title at the end of his rookie season in the sport.
“It feels amazing,” he smiled. “To be champion in my first year. There’s not much more I could ask for. It is an enormous amount of work for the whole Team. There’s so much happening behind the scenes – just six or seven hours a day doing set-up work, specialising on strategy and just getting the most out of the car you can. These guys, Joni and Frede put in so many hours. They’re two of the best guys on the grid, they helped me a lot and they really helped me to learn and get experience, so I’m very grateful to them.”
Commenting on the Team decision for Rasmussen to compete in the final race, the French driver added: “I feel that was definitely the right team. He had a shot to go for the Drivers’ Championship, so of course I’m going to give up that spot. This is a team sport and that's what we’re playing for.”
Tormala, who did the lion’s share of the set-up work admitted that the campaign hadn’t been easy: “After the first event and with all my issues it looked like it would be quite hard but in the end we pulled out quite a big gap in the points and I’m really satisfied with that. It feels awesome.”
And the Finn, too, concluded by paying tributes to his Team and his fellow drivers.
“This was a team win,” he added. “Everyone could jump in and get the points we needed so definitely a team effort. I’d been hoping and waiting for that moment when we lifted the trophy for the past six months and now it feels great. It couldn’t be better.”