Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen driver Jarno Opmeer continued to stamp his authority on the 2020 F1 Esports series with a win and two podiums in the second week of action of the championship.
The Dutch racer is now up to 123 points, 27 clear of Red Bull’s Marcel Kiefer, with the team in second place in the constructors’ championship.
Racing in Zandvoort, Montreal and Spielberg, the Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen racers had to face a resurgent Red Bull duo of Kiefer and Frede Rasmussen, which had emerged as the main title threat in the first round of races.
Heading into uncharted territory in the Netherlands, on a track on which Formula One has yet to race, Opmeer narrowly missed on pole position; team-mate Daniel Bereznay, meanwhile, was unfortunate to miss out on a slot in Q2 on a track where overtaking is notoriously difficult.
Splitting strategies, with Opmeer starting on softs and Bereznay on mediums, the duo set off to bring home a good haul of points. Opmeer challenged for the win, leading for big segments of the race before having to concede to Rasmussen; Hungarian star Bereznay fell just short of a place in the top ten.
The second race of the night took place at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, in Montreal. Both drivers comfortably made it to Q3, Opmeer taking another front row with Bereznay in sixth. With rain on the horizon, the Dutchman opted to start on mediums, with Bereznay on softs to split strategies once again.
Jarno took the lead early on, while Daniel made up places thanks to an aggressive undercut. After a late stop for soft tyres, Opmeer set off on a comeback push: a contact with the unsighted David Tonizza, invisible due to a bug in the game, eliminated the Ferrari driver, but the showdown materialised on the penultimate lap, when the Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen driver managed to overtake Rasmussen to claim his third win of the season. Bereznay crossed the line in P8 to bring more points to the team in the constructors’ championship.
The final race of the round, at the Spielberg track in Austria, provided a tough test for drivers and team, beginning with a qualifying session in which finding space on the short track was a challenge.
Daniel and Jarno made it to Q3, qualifying in P8 and P2 respectively, the Hungarian having his best lap of the session invalidated. On a track where overtaking is not as difficult as elsewhere, both drivers started on mediums: Daniel made up places but Jarno fell to P5 as a trio of soft-shod cars overtook him.
The Dutchman went long to make the most of his mediums, leaving a charge on soft for the final few laps. Bereznay was the victim of a collision in which Manuel Biancolilla of Alpha Tauri pushed him off track and into the path of former team-mate Brendon Leigh: the resulting crash saw Daniel punished with a five-seconds penalty that would eventually push him out of the points.
Following his pit-stop, Jarno quickly dispatched several cars running on mediums but, once caught up with the leading pair of Kiefer and Rasmussen, he was unable to pass them for the win, settling for a close P3 at the chequered flag.
The results from the three-event means Jarno becomes the only driver to finish on the podium for six consecutive events as he reinforces his lead in the world championship standings. Daniel, suffering from a few incidents on track not of his own making, slipped a little in the rankings, but remains confident to make up the lost ground in the final six races of the season.
In the constructors’ standings, the team lost its top perch to Red Bull, but remains within striking distance as we pass the halfway point in the calendar.
Jamie MacLaurin, Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen F1 Esports Team Principal: “The boys once again did us proud, with Jarno securing a win and two podiums and Dani bringing home some crucial points. We lie second in the constructors’ championship behind Red Bull at the halfway stage, and we will need to give everything now if we are to close the gap and claim our first title.”
James Doherty, Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen F1 Esports Team Manager: “Both drivers maximised everything they could in the circumstances given and I couldn’t’ be prouder once again. The championship will purely be decided on consistency: as shown in these races, both us and Red Bull have the driver line-ups to secure double podiums, therefore this is the aim for the rest of the season. Event three and event four are among our strongest tracks, therefore the approach will be the same to regain the momentum that we demonstrated in the opening week of competition.”
Daniel Bereznay: “This day was another hard day for me in F1 Esports. There were no unlucky moments, I had every opportunity to perform and I failed to do that. I need to make some personal changes to my preparation to be as competitive and as consistent as possible in both the race and qualifying. Congratulations to Jarno who is doing an awesome job for our team.”
Jarno Opmeer: “Overall I am very happy and satisfied with my performance. In the last race at Austria I was disappointed with the outcome, but in the situation at hand the Red Bull pairing executed their strategy perfectly. There is a long way to go and it’s important the pressure is constantly applied and we regain the momentum.”