The pro championship is just around the corner. The drivers will fight one more time tonight and there will be plenty of drama for sure. New faces, old rivals and many unanswered questions make the autumn and winter series an unforgettable experience.
Here are seven reasons why 2021 will be the best season of the F1 Esports Series yet …
1. Opmeer’s Odyssey
A reigning champion breaking new ground. It’s a story we’ve seen many times in Formula One: Fernando Alonso tried it in 2007, Jenson Button tried it in 2010, Damon Hill in 1997 … the list goes on. And while none of these three drivers have expanded their trophies, there is no reason why Jarno Opmeer cannot rewrite history.
His move from Renault (2019) to Alfa Romeo (2020) could have been disruptive. Different teams, with different mindsets and leadership styles.
You wouldn’t have known it from his driving, however, and having emerged as the surprising dark horse for the 2019 title, he carried the momentum into his Alfa days with absolute ease. He’s a man with a proven track record of winning for every team he races for and he should definitely be considered a favorite for the title this year.
WATCH: F1 Esports Series Preview Show kicks off the 2021 season
Jarno Opmeer is “super happy” after winning the Esports Pro Series drivers’ championship
2. Tonizza and Leigh at the Ferrari Driver Academy
FDA Esports will have not one but two F1 esports champions on their books this year. With shades of Hamilton and Button and McLaren in 2010, the FDA’s lineup proves beyond any doubt that it will be a force to be reckoned with to win both titles.
David Tonizza and Brendon Leigh were almost inseparable on the track last year, only five points apart in the championship. They also shared the podium in the Italian race for the first and only time so far. Perhaps this first meeting on (virtual) Italian soil was a sign of the future – because the two now live in Italy.
WATCH: Can George Russell and Lando Norris beat their AI peers in F1 2021?
An early win for Tonizza in 2020 put him close to the business end of the championship standings and early form suggested he might be able to defend the crown. However, a deluge of non-scores ruined his year. From the first six races he took one win and only one other point.
Leigh has since recovered after a relatively quiet 2019 season. With Tonizza’s all-or-nothing results paired with Leigh’s constancy, Ferrari has one of the most exciting pairings in the virtual pit lane.
The Ferrari F1 Esports line-up for 2021
3. Unbridled Red Bull
Red Bull Racing Esports did really incredible things in 2020, crushing everyone who stood before them in the team championship and providing two title challengers for the driver’s crown. Marcel Kiefer was the third driver to score points in every race and Frede Rasmussen was second in the drivers’ championship for the second time in a row.
F1 2021 is now available for PlayStation, Xbox and Steam
The monstrous power of this duo cannot be emphasized enough that great things are to be expected again. Rasmussen has finished sixth, third, second and second overall in the previous four seasons of the F1 Esports Series, so he will do everything possible not to miss the top spot again.
Kiefer has now achieved a top six place in the championship in all three of his seasons – but the quantum leap in constancy and points that he showed in 2020 speaks for his adaptability and upward trend. The hardest part could be choosing a bull as Red Bull is keen to once again set the standard for teamwork.
Sebastian Job (L), Frede Rasmussen (M) and Marcel Kiefer (R) are Red Bull’s esports drivers
4. Big changes at Mercedes
The talent pool at Mercedes in 2020 was amazing, with Brendon Leigh, Bono Huis and Bari Boroumand, but they failed to convert it into title success and narrowly beat FDA Esports to fourth place overall. Two-time champions Leigh have left as has Boroumand, but Huis remains with the black arrows for a second season. He’s in good company with fellow compatriot and reigning F1 esports champion Jarno Opmeer.
HOW IT HAPPENS: All the action from the F1 Esports Series Pro Exhibition
That means Mercedes has had a champion on their books for every season so far and, as mentioned above, Opmeer’s job will be to keep them in silver all winter.
The third point of the Mercedes star is that of Dani Moreno, a relative newcomer to F1 esports who is climbing the pecking order in 2020 with a great debut season. He then drives for McLaren, this time switching to Mercedes for more solid points. He finished nine of the 12 races in 2020, with a breathless battle for the podium at Silverstone, culminating in the best second place of the season.
Watching champion Opmeer push the team back to the top will keep every F1 Esports watchful – as will the team-internal battle for supremacy between Huis and Moreno.
2020 F1 Esports Pro Series: Opmeer splits the field in Shanghai
5. New blood
Of the 30 drivers for 2021, 10 are brand new. Seven qualified via the Challengers and three via the DHL Time Trial. Two teams have completely new driver lineups, and a third of the grid has never raced in F1 Esports before. Only one team, Aston Martin, keeps the same trio as last year, and Mercedes is the only other team made up of esports veterans.
All of this uncertainty and fresh talent mean we have a fucking curve ball ahead of us. Who do the teams choose for the races? The new drivers were chosen for a reason, so will they replace some of the more well-known stars?
With so many eager rookies in the field, it’s going to be an intense midfield race and we might even see some surprises up ahead. Drivers like Nicolas Longuet, David Tonizza and Dani Moreno have had incredible rookie seasons, so there’s a very good chance we can unearth some real superstars this time around.
WATCH: Williams, AlphaTauri and Alfa Romeo teammates guess each other’s F1 2021 game ratings
Big changes in F1 esports mean that a number of new drivers will take over the helm this season
6. New tracks
We had to keep our cards close to our chests for a while, but with the release of F1 2021, the news came that Imola, Portimao and Jeddah would all be pouring into the game as free downloadable content. The second half of the season is flooded with new venues as Portimao opens the third event on November 24th.
Then we will return to Zandvoort which should return to F1 in 2020. Due to the pandemic, this was postponed to 2021, but luckily we saw a digital race there.
The fourth and final event brings two new routes to the fore, with Imola in Italy – home of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – organizing round 10.
At this point the championship is nearing its end. So when we see it played out in such an amazing and untested place, we will get on our nerves. Imola is slated to arrive in F1 2021 in October 2021, giving drivers a few months to improve their racing line before the grand finale in December.
Portimao has joined the circuit line-up this season
F1 esports reaches half a century
The 2021 F1 Esports Series Pro Championship presented by Aramco will be the 50th race in the history of the series. It started in 2017 with eight semi-finals and three final races before a revision of the system brought about a new structure. Ten races in 2018 and twelve each in 2019 and 2020 bring us to 43, and this year we have 12 to go.
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This will make the seventh race of the Pro Championship 2021 – around the Autodromo do Algarve in Portugal – the 50th race. As mentioned, the track will be featured for the first time in F1 Esports and will be added to the game as a free download in September.
As the first of three newcomers to the F1 Esports Series presented by Aramco, there is no status quo, no history and no expectations. We are excited to see what happens there at the third event in November.
Tune in to F1.com tonight to see the first lap of the season live.The post 7 reasons why 2021 will be the best F1 esports season yet first appeared on monter-une-startup.