It was a night of missed opportunities as the Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN team saw two positive results slip through their fingers at the Chinese Virtual Grand Prix.
Antonio Giovinazzi was victim of technical issues – a disconnection from the race – when running in a solid P8, while Pro racer Daniel Bereznay missed out on a podium finish in the closing stages of the Pro Exhibition race after suffering from damage with mere laps to go.
In what proved to be an exciting night of racing, Antonio and teammate, Juan Manuel Correa, flew the flag for the team against an increasingly competitive line-up of drivers. Antonio made a good getaway from the grid, running in the top ten for the majority of the race. Unfortunately, with just six laps to go and after having repelled the attacks of F3 racer Liam Lawson on a number of occasions, it was a network glitch that finally had the best of the man in car #99. Juan Manuel, on his debut in the Virtual Grand Prix series and in one of his first appearances on the official Formula One game, was a creditable P14 after executing an alternative strategy and coming on top of an exciting battle with Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Earlier in the evening, in the F1 Esports Pro Exhibition race, Daniel Bereznay and James Baldwin put in a good performance for the team: the Hungarian spent most of the race in a podium position, eventually crossing the line in P5 after coming out worse in a battle with rivals; while Baldwin, hampered by a qualifying that left him only 12th on the grid, was unable to show all his pace and finished in P13.
Antonio Giovinazzi: “It’s a shame to end a race like this, through no fault of our own. It had been a good race up to that point, with a good start and first lap and a few exciting battles until the disconnection.”
Juan Manuel Correa: “it was great fun to compete against such a great field and I am happy about my race. I didn’t get a great qualifying – I still need to work on my one-lap pace in the game as there’s quite a few settings to master for it. I had a really good start, I was up to P9, and then I decided to go on a long strategy, staying out for 13 laps. This choice got me all the way up to P5, but then I boxed and came out in 15th. I chased Thibaut [Courtois] for the rest of the race: he was tough to follow as he had great pace, but I eventually managed to pass him. We fought for position until the end.”
Daniel Bereznay: “P5 is a solid result, I am happy with it in this very strong field. I was up in P3 for most of the race, but then I got some front wing damage in a hard but fair battle with [Williams driver Alvaro] Carreton and dropped to fifth. Brendon Leigh and Frede Rasmussen were just faster this time so well done to them, hopefully the next track will play more to my characteristics.”
James Baldwin: “The racing was tricky, especially with the changing conditions in qualifying. Ultimately, the grid was very close but starting in P12 is a real handicap at this level. I felt my pace was fairly good, but the race just didn’t go my way. It is definitely time to make F1 my one and only focus within Esports if I am to be at the front.”