F1 Esports returns this week for three more intense and fascinating races.
We are at the halfway stage of the 2022 Pro Championship and it is remarkably close at the top of both title races.
With a trio of titanic on-track battles coming and little time to prepare, these races could well see a few names drop out of the title chance.
Blakeley on top
This season has the feel of Lucas Blakeley's time to shine.
The young Scot has won three races this season, including a terrific drive in changeable conditions at Zandvoort last time out.
After finishing third in the Championship last season he has gelled brilliantly with F1 22's new cars and handling. This was evident in his PSGL win this summer and that form has continued into F1 Esports.
He holds a 15-point lead against the ever-present threat of Frede Rasmussen and is 40 points clear of teammate Bari Boroumand, with impressive rookie Thomas Ronhaar in fourth.
Given the overall strength of the grid this is not an insurmountable lead, but Blakeley has not finished lower than 6th this season and is showing an air of consistency that it takes to be champion in F1 Esports.
Expectations are always high when you are a reigning double champion. After two years glued to the front of the field, everyone thought Opmeer would be the one to beat again, but it just hasn't been the case this season.
The Dutchman has been lacking ultimate pace in qualifying, which is consistently putting him on the back foot come the race.
He still has the best racecraft and strategic brain in the business, but starting anywhere from 7th to 13th has left him in recovery mode rather than focusing on wins.
His highest finish so far this season is second in Bahrain, which remains his only podium finish.
Sat on 60 points, Opmeer needs a very strong week if he is to become a three-time champion. He did win in both Mexico and COTA last season though, so don't count him out just yet.
The drivers will be visiting three ultra-fast tracks this week.
The first stop is Monza, then the show moves on to Mexico City and COTA.
Monza is prime for chaos given the multiple heavy braking zones and DRS trains. Drivers are likely to be running 0-0 wings with a focus on tyre management and ERS management.
Mexico and COTA will be much harder to manage tyres and could see F1 Esports' first two-stop races now that the race distance is longer. COTA in particular can really eat up tyres.
Both tracks feature long straights with overtaking chances but also flowing esses and tricky technical sectors that will test consistency, dirty air driving, and of course tyre & ERS management.
How to watch
Monza - Wednesday 2 November - Qualifying 3:30pm GMT, Race 7:30pm GMT
Mexico City - Thursday 3 November - Qualifying 3:30pm GMT, Race 7:30pm GMT
COTA - Friday 4 November - Qualifying 3:30pm GMT, Race 7:30pm GMT
Drivers' Championship Standings
|Lucas Blakeley||McLaren Shadow||110|
|Frede Rasmussen||Red Bull Racing Esports||95|
|Bari Boroumand||McLaren Shadow||70|
|Thomas Ronhaar||Haas F1 Esports||63|
|Jarno Opmeer||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports||60|
|Sebastian Job||AlphaTauri Esports||34|
|Nicolas Longuet||Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen F1 Esports||34|
|Josh Idowu||AlphaTauri Esports||31|
|Dani Moreno||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports||30|
|Marcel Kiefer||Red Bull Racing Esports||20|
Teams' Championship Standings
|Red Bull Racing Esports||115|
|Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports||90|
|Haas F1 Esports||71|
|Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen F1 Esports||35|
|Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Esports||16|