news

F1 ESPORTS FINALE

The F1 Esports Series came to a conclusion this weekend in London with the Red Bull Racing Esports Team represented by Joni Törmälä and Graham Carroll finishing sixth in the Constructors' Championship.

The final event of the series, held at the Gfinity Esports Arena in Fulham saw the nine teams contest four races, taking the series to Hockenheim, Marina Bay, the Circuit of the Americas and, finally, the Yas Marina Circuit. The racing was exceptional, the overtaking enthusiastic, and the stewards were kept very busy.

For the Red Bull Racing Esports Team, the goal during this final event of the season was to consolidate and secure third place in the Constructors’ Championship. Going into these final rounds, the Mercedes and Toro Rosso teams were well ahead of the field, with Red Bull [59], EForce India [58] and Sauber [58] locked in a titanic scrap for the final podium position.

Events started brightly on Friday for Joni, qualifying P2 for the Hockenheim race, while Graham started down in P15. Things didn’t go well for Graham in the race; he was hit with a penalty for speeding in the pitlane (in the highly unusual circumstance of jostling for position in the pit entry), and, in these short races, the effects of penalties are hugely magnified. Graham eventually finished P14. Up front, with Sauber’s Salih Saltunç, racing away to victory, Joni battled for the podium spots with Mercedes Brendon Leigh, eventually having to settle for third place.

From Germany, the competition moved on swiftly to Singapore, and the tight confines of the Marina Bay Street Circuit. Wet qualifying on the tricky downtown track saw a mixed grid, with Joni starting P6 and Graham P13. An early stop for Joni didn’t work out too well and he finished P7 but Graham made it a double-points finish, extending his first stint and climbing to P10 at the flag.

The drivers were solid midfielders again at the next race, with Joni starting P8 and Graham P12 at the Circuit of the Americas. In one of the most exciting races in the series to date, the action was fast and furious in Texas. Graham finished P13, picking up a penalty for exceeding track limits (in common with half the field), and Joni finished the race P9.

This left the Red Bull Esports Team languishing in fifth position on 82 points, with eForce India occupying third with 97 and Sauber close behind on 95. There was, however, everything to play for in the final contest of the season, with the Abu Dhabi round, featuring a double-length (ie 28 laps – or half grand prix distance) race around the virtual Yas Marina Circuit, with double points on offer.

Both drivers started in the top ten, Joni from P5 and Graham P10. Unlike the earlier rounds, the double-distance race encouraged strategic thinking, and the possibility of a two-stop race but it didn’t work out for either driver with Graham finishing 11th and Joni 14th.

In an eerie facsimile of the real world, Mercedes took home both the Constructors’ Championship and the Drivers’ title for Englishman Brendon Leigh. Missing out on points at the heavily influential final round hurt our standing, with the Red Bull Racing Esports Team finishing P6.

“It’s been a season of up and downs: getting three podiums and having really bad races also. It could have gone a lot better – but could have gone worse,” said Joni who finished the year P7 in the Drivers’ Championship. “The series is incredibly competitive. Everyone is so close that, if you make one mistake, it can cost you the whole race. It’s hard – but that’s racing.”

“It’s crazy, it really is,” added Graham, P14 in the Drivers’ Championship. “You lock-up one tyre in qualifying and that’s almost your race done because it’s all down to qualifying positions in these 25 per cent races. In Abu Dhabi, there was a bit longer but it was carnage over the start, which put us on the back foot. The competition here, it’s unreal – but that’s what we strive for. You want to race against the best and we’ll come back stronger next time.

“It’s been great to represent Red Bull in a competition of this structure and having the world’s best sim racers in it. To be honest, the results haven’t been what I’ve been used to, and what I’d expect from myself but working with Red Bull, working with Joni, it’s been awesome. We have to get back to work now and find some more pace for next season!” 

The F1 Esports Series will return in 2019.