After a three week break, the 2022 F1 Esports season continued around Monza today. La Pista Magica hosted round seven of 12 this season and was a scintillating slip-streaming contest.
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This is the first season of Formula 1 esports pro series on the F1 22 game and so far, it's been extremely entertaining. The second half of the campaign began today but could anybody catch Lucas Blakeley
F1 Esports 2022 Italy
F1 Esports' most exciting rookie Thomas Ronhaar claimed pole position for his home race earlier today. Championship leader Lucas Blakeley started alongside the home hero on the front row.
To throw a spanner into the mix, the start of the race was in heavy rain conditions, so the full wets and inters were on all of the cars.
Blakeley got off to the perfect start and led into Turn 1. Ronhaar made contact with Nicolas Longuet and plummeted down to P8. Jarno Opmeer also got a great start, up to P2 at the end of Lap 1.
Those on the intermediates were struggling, but it was possible that they'd come into their element as the track dried. The most impressive starter was Piotr Stachulec, who gained eleven spots and was running in P5.
Bari Boroumand was continuing his winning form from yesterday. The man from Iran was hot on the heels of Opmeer on Lap 7 of 36, but couldn't get past.
Frede Rasmussen on the intermediates was picking up pace, signalling the leaders to bail for new tyres. Once the stops had been completed, Rasmussen was up in P4.
As we approached the halfway mark, we were still a long way away from dry tyres. Those who started on inters would have to pit again, but those who began on wets were trying to run to the end of the race.
Zandvoort dried out rapidly around the 20 lap mark. The main victim of this was Ronhaar, who dropped out of the points and into P12 thanks to a late stop.
Drivers now had the use of DRS available and this allowed Boroumand to finally get past Opmeer into P2 down the pit straight. Rasmussen would do the same to get onto the podium a few laps later.
With some drivers carrying penalties as well, the order would be shaken up after the chequered flag had fallen. Something that wasn't going to change though was the leader, as Blakeley was over seven seconds ahead of P2.
Stachulec's incredible day came to an end of Lap 31 as he made contact with Dani Moreno while attempting to defend. He dropped down to P18 and this was a crying shame given how high he was running (P6).
Brendon Leigh had come out of nowhere in the closing laps to steamroll into P6. The Ferrari driver was on track for his best finish of the season.
Out front though, it was Lucas Blakeley who converted an incredible victory to increase his championship lead to 12 points at the halfway point of the season!
Blakeley's third win of the season saw him celebrate more passionately than we've ever seen. Rasmussen was up to second place after Boroumand's penalty, but the McLaren man still ended up on the podium.
Longuet was an impressive fourth, with Leigh up in fifth. Seb Job continued his solid form up in sixth with polesitter Ronhaar ending up in P7. Opmeer dropped to eighth thanks to his penalty but was still ahead of teammate Moreno in P9.
Marcel Kiefer had a quiet day and completed the points places in P10.
When's the next round?
Monza just starts the fun in the third of four triple-headers in the 2022 F1 Esports season. We head to Mexico City tomorrow for the Mexican Grand Prix, which will be live from 7:30pm UK time.
The race will be live on Sky Sports F1, as well as F1's official YouTube, Twitch and Facebook pages. Qualifying will be live from 3:30pm earlier in the day on the same channels.
After Mexico, we go north across the border to the USA and COTA on 3rd November.