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Formula 1

Opmeer extends F1 Esports lead after controversial win

by Nathan Quinn
4 min read

Alfa Romeo’s Jarno Opmeer extended his F1 Esports lead with a controversial Montreal win under review after contact with Ferrari’s Daniel Tonizza, and a second place behind Frederik Rasmussen at the series’ Zandvoort debut.

Red Bull’s Rasmussen took his first pole position of the season and by a margin of just 0.011 seconds over Opmeer at the driver’s home event.

The top two held onto their positions at the start but on the second run down the start finish straight Opmeer passed Rasmussen for the race lead.

Rasmussen was unable to get back in front and they pitted on the same lap which ruled out pit stop strategy playing a part in the race win.

It wasn’t until the start of the penultimate lap that Rasmussen went for a move on Opmeer – getting a run off the circuit’s new final corner banking to slipstream past with the aid of DRS.

Red Bull’s other driver Kiefer was unable to follow him through to make it a Red Bull 1-2, but it was still the first race win and double podium finish for the team as he took third.

The medium to soft tyre strategy didn’t work out for Renaults – which started fourth and fifth on the medium tyre – as the track proved to be as difficult to overtake on as expected.

Nicolas Longuet exited behind Williams driver of Alvaro Carreton and was able to get back in front of him as well as Dutchman Bono Huis.

Two more passes followed on McLaren’s Daniel Moreno and two-time champion Brendon Leigh, but Longuet was unable to get back in front of AlphaTauri’s Joni Tormala despite being ahead of him before either driver had pitted.

Tormala therefore crossed the line in fourth with Longuet in fifth place.

The second race of the day was at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and it initially looked like Kiefer would ensure Red Bull started on pole for both races, but his fastest lap time was removed for track limit violations which dropped him to sixth.

Defending champion Tonizza took pole position but quickly lost the lead to Opmeer who was able to pull alongside Tonizza into the first corner and had the inside line for the next turn to take first place.

With parc ferme rules concerning starting tyre compounds not applying to the F1 Esports Pro Series, the top two drivers elected to start on the medium compound tyres whilst most drivers behind them went for the softs.

Despite the grippier tyres of those behind Tonizza and Opmeer held onto the top two positions until their pit stops came much later in the race, hoping to gain the benefit of the softer rubber to fight back through the field later in the race.

F1 Esports Canada Opmeer Pic 1

Opmeer’s team-mate Daniel Bereznay was in the first group of drivers to pit and undercut Kiefer by a lap to take a net fourth place.

Rasmussen came in for a new set of tyres two laps after Bereznay but was just able to stay ahead of him thanks to the fresher rubber and the pit exit giving him a better run up to Turn 3.

Tonizza stopped over halfway into the race for soft tyres but exited in between both Williams drivers for what was ninth position.

What followed from the Ferrari driver was a stream of overtakes that put him back up into second place within five laps, including an opportunistic move on Bereznay at Turn 3.

Opmeer came in three laps after Tonizza and rejoined one place lower, behind Michael Romanidis of Williams, but he too found multiple places on the track to get past the drivers in front of him.

With five laps of the 25-lap race left to run Tonizza was second and Opmeer third with Rasmussen in the lead of the race by three seconds, albeit on much older medium tyres.

Opmeer had caught up to the back of Tonizza as both were catching Rasmussen but rounding the flatout Turn 5 Opmeer squeezed Tonizza into the wall, sending the Ferrari into the air and rolling.

After the race, Opmeer said he hadn’t seen Tonizza on his screen and therefore didn’t know he was there or couldn’t take avoiding action.

Tonizza rejoined the race but with significant wing damage and retired a few corners later.

Opmeer was left on his own to close the three-second gap to Rasmussen, overtaking him at the end of the second to last lap in a role reversal of what happened at Zandvoort.

The crash with Tonizza is being investigated, but Opmeer crossed the line to take victory.

Rasmussen took second as the lead driver on the soft-medium strategy – with his team-mate Kiefer in third and Longuet in fourth.

Moreno for McLaren Shadow had his best result of the season with fifth place, giving the team some much needed points as it entered the second event ninth in the constructors’ championship.

Each round of the season so far is being held with a group of three races. The Montreal and Zandvoort races are part of a trio with the Red Bull Ring event which will take place on November 5.

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