If you thought two drivers going toe-to-toe for a championship was thrilling, what about three?
While the real-world sport zooms toward a fiery conclusion to the 2021 season between Lewis Hamilton & Max Verstappen, The F1 Esports Series Pro Championship is poised to be even more hotly contested.
With three races left there are three drivers within just 8 points of each other. The title will be decided by the end of the fourth and final F1 Esports event. But who will come out on top?
A three way fight
There are a trio of amazing competitors at the top of the standings. All are race winners and pole sitters this season, but which will win? Let's take a look at them each.
The reigning champion
There is little surprise who is at the top of the standings right now. 2020 champion Jarno Opmeer has continued his strong form from last season and took this championship by the horns with two wins in the first event.
His remarkable win from P14 in China stands out, but his drive in Austria was just as important. He also claimed a crucial victory in COTA at the end of Event 3. The weakness to his game however has been qualifying.
Starting multiple races outside of the top 10 is far from ideal, and while he has been able to make his way through the field with great strategy and overtaking, it's left the door open for others to take points off him.
The nearly man
Frede Rasmussen has been at the front of the F1 Esports grid for a long time now. Third in the driver standings in 2018 and second in both '19 & '20 he is considered by many to be the fastest driver in the field, it just hasn't always worked out for him.
Another slow start from Rasmussen in 2021 may well cost him again though. He picked up just 28 points from the first three races. Coming into Event 2 34 points behind Jarno, Rasmussen has mounted an enormous comeback charge. He picked up two wins and three seconds in the six races since then.
It could have been more but for a chaotic last lap in Monza where Rasmussen went from P2 to P8. That rear-gunner action for teammate Marcel Kiefer got Red Bull a win, but may end up costing Rasmussen a drivers title.
Lucas Blakeley hasn't been involved in an F1 Esports title fight before, but he's handling himself with poise.
the Aston Martin ace picked up his first F1 Esports win ever at the opening round in Bahrain and has been remarkably consistent both in qualifying and during the race.
He's not finished lower than 6th this season, compared to Jarno's 9th and Frede's 8th, and had the most impressive win in F1 Esports history when he drove clear of the field in Portimao.
So who wins? That all depends on the three tracks that stand between them and the championship.
The last Event this season will be contested across Imola, Mexico, and Interlagos. This trio of tracks all pose different challenges to the drivers.
Imola is narrow, absurdly fast, and hard to overtake. Qualifying is always key in F1 Esports, but with kerbs that bite back, a very long pitlane, and only 1 real overtaking spot, it will be hard to cut through the field even with a tyre advantage.
Mexico, as we all know, features a run to turn 1 that is long enough to cause some chaos up and down the grid. Pole only guarantees that you will be giving an awesome slipstream to the rest of the field. Meanwhile, Interlagos never fails to deliver action and is a great finale venue.
Like Portimao, Imola is new to the game this year and could see diverging strategies and pace from the drivers. A runaway performance from Blakeley is unlikely, but if he's been putting in the hours on the new circuits it could well be an advantage.
The key though, may be Interlagos, where Frede Rasmussen has traditionally struggled.
If it all goes down to the wire then Frede will need to conquer the circuit as well as his opponents.
It's hard to pick against any of these drivers. They are all capable of putting the car on pole and staying clear of the field.
Opmeer is always hard to pick against, as is Rasmussen, but our pick for the championship is Lucas Blakeley. The Aston Martin driver is in the zone right now and has tapped into a level of consistency and pace that should see him at the front of every race.
Of course, there are plenty of other drivers that can get involved and take points off the championship contenders. Nicolas Longuet, Dani Moreno, and Marcel Kiefer are the most likely suspects to challenge for race wins, and have less to lose than those fighting for the championship.
How to watch F1 Esports Final
The action starts at 3:30pm GMT on Wednesday, 15 December with qualifying from Imola & Mexico. The two races will then be run in the evening, starting at 7:30pm GMT.
Qualifying for the final race at Interlagos starts at 3:30pm GMT on Thursday, 16 December, with the race show starting at 7:30pm GMT.
|Jarno Opmeer||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports Team||140|
|Lucas Blakeley||Aston Martin Cognizant Esports Team||135|
|Frederik Rasmussen||Red Bull Racing Esports||132|
|Dani Moreno||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports Team||82|
|Bardia Boroumand||McLaren Shadow||80|
|Marcel Kiefer||Red Bull Racing Esports||67|
|Nicolas Longuet||Alpine Esports Team||57|
|David Tonizza||FDA Esports Team||56|
|Fabrizio Donoso||Alpine Esports Team||46|
|Alvaro Carreton||Williams Esports||28|
For complete driver standings visit F1esports.com
|Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports Team||222|
|Red Bull Racing Esports||199|
|Aston Martin Cognizant Esports Team||144|
|Alpine Esports Team||107|
|FDA Esports Team||78|
|Scuderia AlphaTauri Esports Team||37|
|Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen F1 Esports||9|
|Uralkali Haas F1 Team Esports||0|