A challenging start to the 2020 F1 Pro Series season for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports Team which began this week with the first event of 2020, the team’s third season in the virtual race series using the F1 2020 game by Codemasters.
- Brendon Leigh and Bono Huis formed the driver line-up in the first two rounds, taking place at the virtual versions of the Bahrain International Circuit and Hanoi Street Circuit
- Brendon finished in the points twice, securing 18 points for the team in the first two races
- After difficult qualifying sessions, Bono managed to fight his way through the field in both races, making up positions but finishing outside the points
- For the third round of the event, held at the Shanghai International Circuit, Bari Boroumand replaced Bono Huis
- Brendon (18 points) is P8 in the Drivers’ standings after Event 1, with Bono and Bari still on the hunt for their first points of the season
- The Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports Team (18 points) is currently sixth in the Constructors’ standings
Brendon Leigh: “Going into a new season is always exciting as that’s when you find out where you stand relative to the rest. Qualifying in Bahrain showed that we were lacking a bit of performance, we were about one to two tenths off the rest.
“That made it more difficult for those races as we had to battle our way up through the field. The first race was solid though; I fought my way up to seventh position which felt like it was probably all that was in it for us. Qualifying for the second race worked better for us as we managed to maximise our performance.
“I started sixth on the grid in Hanoi and made up two positions in the race, finishing in P4. China proved to be more tricky and we struggled with the same challenges we encountered in Bahrain and Vietnam. I still managed to put in a decent lap in qualifying, setting a personal best lap time for the Chinese round in qualifying, and started P8.
“But the race didn’t go to plan; I made contact with other cars twice, meaning a good result became harder and harder. I couldn’t make up for it and ended up P17, which is of course not what I had hoped for. We know we have a lot of work to do for the next event, but there are also quite a few opportunities and we’ll give it everything to come back stronger.”
Bono Huis: “It’s been a pretty challenging week for us. We lacked some pace compared to the front of the grid, especially in qualifying, which put us on the back foot for the races. In my case, I made some mistakes in qualifying for both Bahrain and Vietnam, resulting in grid positions that were far from ideal.
“I worked hard to limit the damage in the race and fight my way up through the field. I did make good progress in the races but unfortunately finished just outside the points in both races. After the first day of the event, I started to feel sick and began the China event practice session feeling unwell.
“With the practice session progressing, I realised that I couldn’t perform at my highest level, and took the decision to not compete, meaning Bari had to jump in last minute. It made it a very tough day and it’s very disappointing having to watch the race from the side-lines, after all the hard work over the past months. But we will work hard and give it everything to bounce back at the next event.”
Bari Boroumand: “Overall, I’m pretty happy with the performance. The preparation was not ideal and with less than 30 minutes of practice, qualifying and the race were always going to be challenging. I ended up qualifying in P16, which wasn’t the starting position I’d hoped for, but thanks to a good opening lap, I managed to make my way up through the field on the soft compound and had a very good first stint.
“Overall, the race was decent, and I managed to finish close to the points. Unfortunately, I received a three-second penalty for corner-cutting, but finishing eleventh is a good result given the circumstances.
James Vowles: “We come away from the first three rounds with signs of promising pace, however, we also left good points on the table and clearly have room for improvement. There are many positives from the first three rounds, and the team is working well together.
“Our race pace is competitive, shown both with Bono who was able to fight from the back of the grid, to just missing out on scoring a point and Brendon who was competitive to the leaders. We have two weeks now to tidy up the details and address outstanding issues.
“We leave encouraged, with the knowledge that we know what to do moving forward, and the benchmark we need to meet. We always knew the field would be competitive, you have ten teams all fighting for the top spot, the difference being milliseconds separating some of the best esports drivers in the world.
“To compete at the very front means that we have to do everything just a little bit better. We have a strong team, and we will put that to good use at the next event. We wish Bono a speedy recovery, he was unfortunately unwell during the last race. But we are very impressed by how Bari picked up the mantle and stepped up to the plate without much warning.”