Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN unleashed an unprecedented amount of star power on the weekend’s esports competitions, with top drivers competing in the Formula One Virtual Grand Prix, the Esports Pro Exhibition race and the Veloce Not the GP Series.
Formula One racer Antonio Giovinazzi, F2 podium finisher Juan Manuel Correa, Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and esports specialists Daniel Bereznay and Bardia Boroumand flew the team’s colours with pride, bringing home a best result of P4 (Bereznay, Pro Exhibition race) on a weekend that should have rewarded the team’s efforts with more.
Antonio saw another set of good results vanish due to technical problems, with the network connection failing him on the grid of the first Not the GP series and when fighting for the lead in the second; his luck was not better on Sunday, in the F1 Virtual Grand Prix, when he was forced to leave the race while in the top positions, with a possible podium finish on the cards. It was a disappointing end to a strong weekend for the Italian, who is gaining confidence and pace in his esports efforts, and who would have deserved more.
His team-mates in the two events, Thibaut and Juan Manuel, were left to uphold the team’s honour and did so in professional fashion. The Belgian shot-stopper showed his hands are equally at ease on a steering wheel as they are in his gloves, claiming two top-ten finishes on Saturday; while Correa battled his way to P14 on Sunday, after a race-long battle with rally and rallycross legend, Petter Solberg.
In the Pro Exhibition race, poleman Bereznay, clearly the fastest man on track in the dry, had his race compromised by a technical glitch at the start but was able to recover to finish in fourth, ahead of debutant Bardia Boroumand, a creditable P8 in his first appearance for the team.
The team will return to action next weekend for the Virtual Spanish Grand Prix, the Pro Exhibition race and the Not the GP series.
Antonio Giovinazzi (DNS/DNF, Not the GP; DNF, Virtual GP): “It’s extremely disappointing to have another weekend ruined by technical issues. Both on Saturday and on Sunday, I felt I was on for some really positive results, but in the end we had them taken away from us. It’s a shame, as a team we practiced so much but it was all in vain.”
Juan Manuel Correa (P14, Virtual GP): “It was a really fun race, with battles from the beginning to the end. I had a really good start and made up some places at the start: I was running as high as P9. After the stops, I just tried to maintain my pace but I had some really interesting battles, in particular with Petter Solberg. We kept finding each other on track and in the end it got a bit heated, but it was a cool fight. I feel I am getting more and more comfortable with this platform the more I practice on it, but the guys at the front are incredibly quick so I need to keep working hard.”
Thibaut Courtois (P6/P10, Not the GP): “I really enjoyed my races this weekend. I had a very good first race with P6, after spending most of the event in fourth. The second race was harder because of the reversed grid, and being hit and getting wing damage on the first corner didn’t help. I still managed to go from P17 to P10 and I was just behind two more cars. It was a really nice experience and I was proud to be racing for Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN.”
Daniel Bereznay (P4, Pro Exhibition race): “I was really happy with my raw pace, which I was able to show in qualifying. I got pole by more than a tenth, which is a huge gap in such a field, on a short track and in the dry. I had a few issues at the start which cost me two places, and in the rain it was really hard to make up lost ground. My pit stop was a bit slow, so in the end I finished in P4. It is frustrating, given how quick we were, but I know I couldn’t have done anything better today”.
Bardia Boroumand (P8, Pro Exhibition race): “Racing at this level was insane, it was a great experience and I am grateful for this opportunity the team gave me. I feel I could have been higher up in qualifying, but I was blocked in my fastest lap and that cost me a tenth. In such a competitive field, that makes a big difference. The race was quite good, although it was very hard to overtake in the rain. I chose a good strategy and pitted at the right time. I made up places until I was P6, but I sustained some damage passing a car that was still on wet tyres and in the end that cost me two places. I am not really happy with my end result, but that’s all experience that will make me stronger for the next races.”