While the first six races of the F1 Esports Pro Series 2020 had gone well, in this trio of races, everything that could go wrong for Scuderia AlphaTauri Esports did just that.
In Silverstone, Spa-Francorchamps and Monza, our sim racers failed to get in the points in any of them. The performance did not match our expectations with technical problems, bad luck and misunderstandings, seeing us drop to eighth in the Teams’ classification.
Round 7: Great Britain (18 laps)
Joni Törmälä: Pos. 13th – Manuel Biancolilla: Pos. 19th
In qualifying, Manuel Biancolilla finally managed to prove his worth, making it to Q3 and seventh fastest. Unfortunately, Joni Törmälä was marooned in Q1 and started from 19th with a three-place grid penalty for obstructing another car in qualifying.
In the race, Manuel pitted on lap 8 to change tyres but made a mistake coming into pit lane: the car in front braked much earlier than expected and Manuel ran into the back of the other car, damaging his front wing. He lost too much time in the pits as a result and had no hope of making it into the points, in a race where all the cars ran nose to tail, separated by less than a second.
Biancolilla finished 19th, while Törmälä tried his best with an aggressive strategy. He made up six places but it was not enough to get in the top ten and he finished 13th. Nicolas Longuet (Renault) won, ahead of Daniel Moreno (McLaren) and Daniel Bereznay (Alfa Romeo.)
Round 8: Belgium (15 laps)
Joni Törmälä: Pos. 15th – Manuel Biancolilla: Pos. 16th
At Spa-Francorchamps, fortunes were reversed in qualifying: our Finn had great pace, while our Sicilian could not match his training form and did not make the cut out of Q1 and would also pick up a penalty to start 20th.
Unfortunately, fate also stepped in to ruin Törmälä’s qualifying as his screen froze, leaving him in P17. Starting that far back in a race with a long line of cars all in the DRS zone meant there was little they could do. However, our sim racers got a good start and made up several places, although not enough to finish in the points.
Our friends at Red Bull Racing Esports were back in the winner’s circle with our former driver Frederik Rasmussen taking the win, with Daniel Bereznay second for Alfa Romeo and Marcel Kiefer in the other Red Bull third.
Round 9: Italia (19 laps)
Joni Törmälä: Pos. 11th – Manuel Biancolilla: Pos. 18th
We were hoping to do better in our home race, but unfortunately, neither driver managed to emulate the achievement of Pierre Gasly who won the real Italian Grand Prix back in September. Qualifying went reasonably well, with Joni Törmälä making it to Q3 in eighth place, while Manuel Biancolilla stayed in Q2 in 14th.
At the start, Joni got away well but was hit by other cars heading into Turn 1 and immediately dropped three places. Then, the same screen freeze technical problem he experienced on the first day, hit him again for a few moments which saw him drop back further. Finally, because of an unfortunate misunderstanding, Joni pitted on the same lap as Manuel, the latter having to wait for the pit box to be free. They both finished outside the points. David Tonizza (Ferrari) won from Jarno Opmeer (Alfa Romeo) and two-time F1 Esports Pro Series champion in 2017 and 2018, Brendon Leigh (Mercedes.)
Great Britain: “I messed up qualifying and had to start from the back and then there was not much I could do as everyone was on the same strategy. I was in a train of cars and finished P13.”
Belgium: “In qualifying, I put in a good banker lap to be P7, but on my second run, my screen froze as I was going into Turn 1, so my lap was over and I was knocked out in Q1. I tried a very aggressive strategy in the race to try and move up and maybe get some points, but it wasn’t possible, because literally everyone was in the same train. P15 in the end, another really bad race.”
Italy: “Somehow, I actually got qualifying together which was nice and started P8. I had a really good launch off the line, but then some people went crazy and I lost three places. On lap 3 I had another screen freeze, which dropped me to P12. Again, I tried an aggressive strategy in the hope of getting points and it was looking good, until I messed up and got a track limits penalty, so I was back in P13. I must apologise to my team-mate Manu, as I ruined his race, because he ended up waiting behind me in pit lane for the tyre change. It’s been an event to forget, as we have dropped down the standings. I hope we can bounce back in the final round.”
Great Britain: “I’m finally getting used to the pressure of racing F1 Esports and in qualifying I’m starting to improve, so I can match my training pace. I secured a good P7 on the grid. Unfortunately, when I pitted at the end of the first stint, I braked late and there was a collision which left me with a broken wing.”
Belgium: “I didn’t drive consistently enough and in qualifying I was three-tenths off my usual pace, which resulted in having to start from P20 with a grid penalty. But, thanks to a great start I was able to move up some places to finish 16th.”
Italy: “Again, I was not smooth enough and, in Q2, after setting the fastest time in the first sector, I attacked the kerbs too much at the second chicane, losing two tenths. I could have made it to Q3 all the same, but I felt under pressure from the mistake earlier in the lap and lost the car at the final turn, so ended up 14th on the grid. I had a pretty good start, but at Turn 1, I was forced onto the grass by another car, losing three or four places. I made up two places, but a misunderstanding with Joni meant I came into pit lane for my tyre change right behind him, so we were double stacked which cost me almost 10 seconds.”