Brendon Leigh retains his F1 Esports crown as he becomes the drivers’ world champion of the 2018 F1 New Balance Esports Pro Series.
Leigh won last years’ inaugural series on the last lap around the Yas Marina Circuit, beating Fabrizio Donoso Delgado to the title. This year Leigh continued to dominate the series by winning six of the ten races on the calendar.
The Mercedes AMG Petronas Esports driver wrapped up the championship with a win at the Circuit of the Americas, beating team-mate Daniel Bereznay who needed a miracle in the final two races to keep his title hopes alive.
Toro Rosso Esports driver Frederik Rasmussen elected not to race around Germany and Singapore, believing his team-mates Cem Bulokbasi and Patrik Holzmann had a better chance of grabbing a strong result for the team. Rasmussen’s absence in the two races that took place on Friday pushed him out of championship contention.
Mercedes wrapped up the teams’ champion with victories from Leigh and Bereznay at Singapore, USA and the final race in Abu Dhabi. Toro Rosso secured second place whilst a strong final round from Alfa Romeo Sauber Esports placed them third overall.
Sauber’s Salih Saltunc captured his first victory of the series in Germany after starting from pole position, kicking off the final round at the GFinity Arena in London. Leigh managed to place himself in second place ahead of Red Bull Esports‘ Joni Tormala.
Singapore provided a lot of action from the start with Bereznay and Sven Zurner battling on the opening lap as the Hungarian fought to keep his title hopes alive. McLaren Shadow‘s Enzo Bonito started the race on pole position but was overtaken by Leigh on the opening lap. The Italian’s race got worse on the second lap when he ran over debris whilst running in second, causing a puncture. Bonito retired from the race as a result.
Leigh faced competition from Williams Esports‘ Alvaro Carreton, who jumped the Brit in the pit stops and gained the lead of the race. But the Spaniard’s time at the front came to end when Leigh made an unlikely move at Turn 16 for the win.
Bereznay ran majority of the race outside of the top four and needed to break in to keep his title hopes alive. The Hungarian managed to do so by passing Haas F1 Esports Team‘s Martin Stefanko on the last lap to keep the fight with Leigh going to the live races around the USA. Carraton held onto second to grab his first podium whilst Hype Energy eForce India‘s Marcel Kiefer concluded the podium.
The Hungarian needed to win the race and hoped Leigh finished outside of the top eight to keep his championship hopes alive. But Leigh dominated around the COTA circuit, to claim victory and wrap up the drivers’ championship. Bereznay finished in second place, rounding up a Mercedes one-two with Holzmann taking the final podium spot.
USA saw plenty of action take place around the midfield, with the main highlight coming from an epic battle for fifth place between Rasmussen, Zurner, Carraton, Tormala and Saltunc. The battle took place on lap 10 and saw the five drivers battle with each other throughout the second and final sector of the track. Carraton’s battle ended short when he collided with the back of Saltunc’s Sauber, causing front wing damage and dropping him down the field.
Kiefer ended the race in fourth, but was demoted down to seventh after the stewards handed the German a time penalty for an incident involving Ramussen. Saltunc was handed fourth ahead of Rasmussen and Zurner.
The final race around the Yas Marina Circuit proved to be crucial for some of the teams as double points were on offer, handing them an opportunity to make up ground in the teams’ standings. The 50% race distance race started in drama when a huge crash at the double chicane saw Holzmann retire on the opening lap. Kiefer and Zurner were caught up in the accident but were able to resume racing.
The final laps of the race saw a titanic battle for the lead between the two Mercedes drivers of Leigh, Bereznay and Rasmussen as they squabbled for the final win of the series. Their duel allowed the McLaren of Bono Huis to catch up and join in the battle at the penultimate lap. Rasmussen and Leigh engaged in one last battle in the series, with the Brit making a late dive pass at the hairpin before the long straight for the lead of the race.
Rasmussen was furious after the race, tweeting that the battle with Leigh was ‘the worst racing I’ve been part of’ after their engagement left with the Toro Rosso driver with wing damage.
Brake checking, going 100kph too slow in the corners to break the cars behind wing, pushing people off every side by side moment, by far the worst racing ive been part of :(
— Frederik Rasmussen (@G2Frede) November 17, 2018
Leigh’s battle for the lead ended when he was handed a time penalty for exceeding track limits, which allowed Bereznay to claim the final win of the 2018 series, with Huis capturing a podium for McLaren and Rasmussen capturing third. Leigh ended the series down in fifth with Bonito promoted to fourth following Leigh’s penalty.
Bereznay’s win secured Mercedes the teams’ championship as they completed a clean sweep with Leigh winning the drivers’ and DHL Fastest Lap award as well.
The season rounded off with Leigh retaining his title ahead of Bereznay by 50 points. Rasmussen was the best of the rest in third ahead of Salih Saltunc, Kiefer, Huis and Tormala. Holzmann placed himself in eighth place ahead of Carreton, who improved into the final round of the series to break into the top ten of the championship. Enzo Bonito rounded off the top ten with McLaren.
Mercedes won the championship with Toro Rosso and Sauber in second and third respectfully. McLaren Shadow’s strong result in Abu Dhabi pushed them up to fourth overall, beating Hype Energy eForce India by two points. Red Bull dropped down to sixth ahead of Williams Esports. Haas F1 Esports Team took eighth place and the last of the prize money paying positions as Renault Sport Team Vitalty ended the season last and with no prize money.
Thank you ❤❤❤ pic.twitter.com/W1skaCpqZ8
— Brendon Leigh (@BrendonLeigh72) November 17, 2018
2018 F1 New Balance Esports Pro Series Final Championship Standings (Drivers)
|1st||Brendon Leigh||GBR||Mercedes AMG Petronas Esports||6||216|
|2nd||Daniel Bereznay||HUN||Mercedes AMG Petronas Esports||2||166|
|3rd||Frederik Rasmussen||DEN||Toro Rosso Esports||1||127|
|4th||Salih Saltunc||GBR||Alfa Romeo Sauber Esports Team||1||83|
|5th||Marcel Kiefer||GER||Hype Energy eForce India||65|
|6th||Bono Huis||NED||McLaren Shadow||62|
|7th||Joni Tormala||FIN||Red Bull Esports Team||54|
|8th||Patrik Holzmann||GER||Toro Rosso Esports||51|
|9th||Alvaro Carreton||ESP||Williams Esports||40|
|10th||Enzo Bonito||ITA||McLaren Shadow||37|
|11th||Fabrizio Donoso Delgado||CHI||Hype Energy eForce India||34|
|12th||Cem Bolukbasi||TUR||Toro Rosso Esports||32|
|13th||Tino Naukkarinen||FIN||Williams Esports||29|
|14th||Graham Carroll||GBR||Red Bull Esports Team||27|
|15th||Martin Stefanko||CZ||Haas F1 Esports Team||23|
|16th||Allert van der Wal||NED||Alfa Romeo Sauber Esports Team||22|
|17th||Sonuc Saltunc||GBR||Alfa Romeo Sauber Esports Team||14|
|18th||James Doherty||GBR||Renault Sport Team Vitality||14|
|19th||Sven Zurner||GER||Renault Sport Team Vitality||8|
|20th||Michal Smidl||CZ||Haas F1 Esports Team||4|
|21st||Olli Pahkala||FIN||McLaren Shadow||2|
|22nd||Kimmy Larsson||SWE||Renault Sport Team Vitality||1|
|23rd||Mads Soerensen||DEN||Hype Energy eForce India||0|
|24th||Tom Parker||GBR||Haas F1 Esports Team||0|
2018 F1 New Balance Esports Pro Series Final Championship Standings (Teams)
|1st||Mercedes AMG Petronas Esports||382|
|2nd||Toro Rosso Esports||210|
|3rd||Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Esports||119|
|5th||Hype Energy eForce India||99|
|6th||Red Bull Esports Team||81|
|8th||Haas F1 Esports Team||27|
|9th||Renault Sport Team Vitality||23|