Highs and lows for the Scuderia AlphaTauri Esports team in the three races of the second round of the virtual 2020 F1 Esports Pro Series.
However, the overall result was a good one given that at the end of the three races held over two days, ending last night, the team moved up a place in the Team Classification and is now fourth. Our Finnish driver Joni Törmälä was as consistent as ever, even if his run of five consecutive points finishes ended in Round 6 in Austria.
His Italian team-mate, Manuel Biancolilla, finally showed what he is capable of, with a fine sixth-place finish in Canada, his best-ever F1 Esports result.
Round 4: Netherlands (25 laps)
Joni Törmälä: Pos. 4th – Manuel Biancolilla: Pos. DNF
The fourth round of the F1 Esports Series, the Dutch Grand Prix was held among the sand dunes of Zandvoort. Törmälä got a good start from seventh on the grid and passed two cars on the opening lap to be fifth. He pitted on lap six to switch from the Soft to the Medium tyres. He rejoined in traffic but soon cleared it and, as those around him made the obligatory pit stop, his strong pace saw him move up one place to fourth, where he finished behind Rasmussen (Red Bull Racing), Opmeer (Alfa Romeo) and Kiefer (Red Bull Racing). Biancolilla was out of luck, starting nineteenth he had to retire on lap five.
Round 5: Canada (25 laps)
Manuel Biancolilla: Pos. 6th – Joni Törmälä: Pos. 10th
At the Montreal track, Biancolilla made up for his bad luck in the Dutch race, doing a great job in Qualifying to start from third place in his AlphaTauri AT01. Törmälä had a bit more of a struggle, starting from 11th. When the lights went out, Biancolilla got away well but was soon caught and passed by Rasmussen in the Red Bull, who dived down the inside at Turn 2. Soon after, Manuel also came under attack from Kiefer and Bereznay who overtook him, dropping him to sixth place, where he stayed to the flag, apart from a brief moment during his pit stop. The race was more complicated for Törmälä. He pitted on the eighth lap and then moved back up to sixth, before having to give best to those drivers on new Softs, clearly running at a quicker pace. He finished P10, meaning that for the first time this season, both Scuderia AlphaTauri Esports drivers finished in the points. The winner was Opmeer (Alfa Romeo), joined on the podium by Rasmussen (Red Bull Racing) and Kiefer (Red Bull Racing).
Round 6: Austria (25 laps)
Joni Törmälä: Pos. 19th – Manuel Biancolilla: Pos. 20th
This was the home race for the Red Bull family and, on a positive note, Joni Törmälä set the race fastest lap. But apart from that, things did not go to plan for our two drivers, starting with a complicated Qualifying. On the grid, Manuel Biancolilla was 15th and Joni Törmälä 17th. Starting towards the back is always risky in the virtual world of F1 Esports, where a few tenths can be the difference between being in the lead group or down the back of the grid and the slightest contact in the chaos at the start can compromise the entire race. Unfortunately, that was the case for both our drivers as they tussled with others and dropped to the back of the field. The podium featured the same three drivers as the two previous races, but in a different order: Kiefer (Red Bull Racing), Rasmussen (Red Bull Racing), Opmeer (Alfa Romeo).
“Qualifying for the Dutch race was pretty good. I only did one lap in Q1, so I saved tyres for later. I was quickest in Q2 and then in Q3, I was a bit disappointed to be seventh. After the start, I got some crucial overtakes done early on, then after the pit stops, I was fourth in a DRS train behind some others. It wasn’t a very eventful race, but I can feel reasonably happy about P4 and another 12 points for the team.”
“Canada was a big struggle for me, as the track limits were harsh and I had to do quite a lot of cutting to get a good lap time to qualify P11. It was a normal sort of race and I picked up one point in tenth place, so I can be happy with finishing in the points for five races in a row and it was great that my team-mate finished P6.”
“In Q1 for Austria, I kept invalidating all my laps until I had just one run left and it was only good enough for P17, the first time I got knocked out in Q1. So, I opted for a reverse strategy in the race, going from Medium to Soft tyres, but I lost my front wing in Turn 2 and that effectively ended my race, even though I kept going. At least I got the fastest lap of the race, so that was something, but P19 was not what I was expecting. On the positive side, we are still fourth in the Teams’ Championship, which is nice and I’m really looking forward to the next round in two weeks’ time.”
“There’s not much I can say about the Dutch race. It started well, as I had great pace in training, but I wasn’t able to put a good lap together in Qualifying. I had a good enough start in the race, but there was a collision on the opening lap which put me straight in the wall and that was it, race over.”
“I’m very pleased with how the race went in Montréal, as it was the best performance of my Esports career so far. It was great to qualify in third place and from then on everything went really well. My pace was good, as was my racecraft, and that ended with sixth place in the race, bringing home eight points and putting me twelfth in the driver standings.”
“Unfortunately, I had a poor run in Q2. I didn’t manage to put together a good lap on new tyres and had to settle for 15th on the grid. When the lights went out at the start of the race, I didn’t get a good getaway and then I was in too much of a hurry to pass the car in front and I broke my wing, so could only finish P20 in the race.”