Tonizza wins 2019 F1 Esports title as Red Bull secures team honours
The series sees a change of hand on top in the drivers' and teams' standing.
The Round 4 of the 2019 F1 Esports came to a close with Ferrari's David Tonizza winning the drivers' and Red Bull Racing, the teams' title.
Following the first three rounds at Gfinity Arena in London, the finale of the 2019 F1 Esports Championship took place on Wednesday with the three races held at Suzuka (Japan), Circuit of the Americas (USA) and Interlagos (Brazil).
Red Bull's Frederik Rasmussen tried all he he could with wins in the first two F1 Esports races of the round but he couldn't held back Ferrari's Tonizza from winning the drivers' title with his sixth and second place finishes in Race 2 and Race 3.
The final race win went to Alfa Romeo Racing's Daniel Breezany with podium finishes for Racing Point's Lucas Blakeley, Toro Rosso's Patrick Holzmann, McLaren's Enzo Bonito, Mercedes' Brendon Leigh and Williams
The 2019 F1 Esports season ends with Tonizza on top with 184 points to Rasmussen second with 174 and Berezany popping in third with 128, while the teams' side saw Red Bull winning with 246 from Ferrari (184) and Alfa Romeo (176).
Here's how the F1 Esports races panned out:
Rasmussen laid down a marker in the opening race of the event, storming into an unassailable lead early on. The undercut was in full force in this race, with many drivers opting to pit early. The biggest beneficiary of this strategy was Lucas Blakely. After making his debut at the previous event, he was on the hunt for points. And he accomplished that in a major way, emerging in second place after the stops.
He had to fight hard to hold on to it, with pressure from Toro Rosso’s Patrik Holzmann relentless for the final few laps. But the pair held their own and took their first rostrum appearances of 2019. Tonizza crossed the line a fine fourth, with overtaking at Suzuka extremely difficult at the best of times.
While it wasn’t the end of the world, he lost 13 points to Rasmussen. And that became 14 when the Dane set the fastest lap on the very last tour of the circuit. With Opmeer down in sixth and Bereznay out of the points, our quartet of contenders became a duo. Rasmussen versus Tonizza.
If Suzuka was a dent for Tonizza’s title charge, the USA was perhaps a very serious crack. Rasmussen took his third win of the Pro Series in fine style at the Circuit of the Americas, with his Italian rival once again off the podium.
Tonizza proved in the first three events that he had nerve and resolve by the bucketload. But at COTA, he cracked for the first time. He was hit with a three-second time penalty for exceeding track limits. And it was a reprimand that would drop him from P3 on the road down to sixth come the chequered flag.
With Rasmussen taking another dominant win… Tonizza lost his championship lead for the first time. The standout drive of the race – and perhaps the entire event – was that of Jarno Opmeer. The Flying Dutchman rocketed past Alvaro Carreton, Dani Bereznay, and Brendon Leigh in three consecutive laps, and almost challenged Tonizza for the final podium spot on the very last lap.
He was however overzealous in his final move and made minor contact with the Hublot Ferrari Driver Academy racer, and was hit with a one-second penalty by the stewards. He dropped to fourth, with Leigh taking only his second podium of the season.
Rasmussen was unstoppable, and he shot into a four-point lead for the final race of the season. His performance also sealed the Teams’ title for Red Bull Racing Esports, with a lead too great for challengers FDA Hublot and Renault Vitality to close.
Who doesn’t love a good old fashioned titles decider in Brazil? The Interlagos Circuit has seen championships won and lost on the track many a time in F1. And for the first time ever, the F1 Esports Pro Series to get its share of the action too.
With Bereznay and Opmeer eliminated from contention, it was just a two-horse race between Rasmussen and Tonizza. Rasmussen was due to sit the final race of the season out. Nicolas Longuet was pencilled in for the finale – but the shot at the drivers’ title was too much of a great opportunity. So despite not having practiced the Interlagos track, Rasmussen stepped back in as his team mate sportingly stepped aside.
Wet qualifying certainly shook up the order. Tonizza took pole, but the damp conditions saw Rasmussen mired down in P7. The positions stayed as they were at the start of the race, but Frede made a bold – perhaps too bold – decision to pit at the end of the first lap.
The writing was on the wall for him just a few laps later, as he was demoted to an unlucky 13th position by Lucas Blakely. Tonizza meanwhile battled at the front of the field with Dani Bereznay, who was keen to send the 2019 Pro Series out with a bang. He made a dream maneuver around the outside of Tonzilla at the end of the first lap, and the pair sparred right until the chequered flag.
Rasmussen made some progress as the pit stops re-shuffled the deck, but come the chequered flag it was Tonizza P2, Rasmussen P10. Cue emotional team radio and tears from the emotional FDA Hublot team. Their first foray into F1 Esports paid off in the very first year, and their champion is already a household name!
[Image courtesy: F1 Esports] [Note: This story was also written by me on FormulaRapida.net]