The answer to the big question that is circulating down at the local watering hole, if F1 Pro Esports racers took on real F1 drivers, who would win?
Lucas Blakeley and Jarno Opmeer are no strangers in the F1 Pro Esports genre, in fact they are both World Esports champions and took on Valtteri Bottas and Mikka Hakkinenin in the 2023 race of champions.
Lucas Blakeley and Jarno Opmeer made waves at the 2023 Race of Champions, knocking out F1 champion duo Mika Hakkinen and Valtteri Bottas!
Blakeley and Opmeer, who booked their place in the Nations Cup during Friday’s eROC event, defeated Bottas and Hakkinen over four heats of on-track driving, advancing to the next round of the competition.
Blakeley was first up, beating Bottas, before Opmeer faced off against Hakkinen. The Dutchman looked to have won his heat against fellow two-time champion Hakkinen, but a jump-start gave the point to the Finnish drivers instead, levelling the score 1-1.
What a start to the @RaceOfChampions Nations Cup 😱
F1 Esports champion @LucasBlakeley01 defeats @ValtteriBottas on the snow to go 1-0 up for Team eROC!#F1 #ROCSweden pic.twitter.com/YKoMAyGQLK
— Formula 1 (@F1) January 28, 2023
Team eROC looked to be heading home, as Opmeer was beaten by Bottas in the third heat. However, the best-of-four format meant that Blakeley could still put the team through – if he beat Hakkinen by a big margin. As a tie-breaker, the cumulative lap times of all four heats are combined, and going into the final heat, Team eROC trailed by just half a second.
Blakeley duly blitzed the course, and crossed the line well ahead of Hakkinen to claim an unprecedented win for the Esports stars. The achievement saw them through to the quarter finals, where they encountered the formidable Team Germany, in a rematch of last year’s first round.
Back in 2022, Blakeley got the best possible start, unseating Sebastian Vettel in the first heat, before a spirited comeback for Germany saw them prevail. This year was to be different, with Vettel besting Blakeley, and Mick Schumacher beating Opmeer in their first head-to-head. This put Team eROC on the back foot, and they were knocked out – but losing to opponents of such high quality is not something to be sniffed at!
Team eROC 🙌 let’s go @jarno_opmeer pic.twitter.com/DLmLNGy2gB
— Lucas Blakeley (@LucasBlakeley01) January 28, 2023
F1 Esports’ two most recent champions can take pride in their truly remarkable achievement, proving beyond doubt that sim racers can cut it on track.