Round 8 of Season 31 of the PSGL F1 PC Championships got underway at Italy's Monza Circuit earlier today. The F1 22 esports series has been thrilling so far this season, with the McLaren pairing at the top of the standings.
Lucas Blakeley's victory last weekend in Japan closed the gap between he and Bari Boroumand to just a single point. However, Jarno Opmeer has crept into the championship battle, sitting 18 points behind Boroumand.
So, it was all to play for at La Pista Magica, here are all the highlights!
As expected, qualifying times were very close around the fastest circuit of the season. Ferrari's Brendon Leigh was looking like taking a pole for the home fans, but Frede Rasmussen took pole in his Red Bull.
Boroumand qualified alongside the Dane on the front row with teammate Blakeley in P3. Sebastian Job rounded out the top four with an incredible lap in his AlphaTauri.
In the race, Rasmussen got off to the perfect start and quickly broke the DRS range of Boroumand. Blakeley had to pass his teammate to get the championship lead and did so into Turn 1 on Lap 4.
Further back, Opmeer was making ground on his softer medium tyres, up to P6 on Lap 5 of 27. The McLarens would swap positions again on Lap 8, as they used the DRS to catch up to Rasmussen.
Pit stops and lead change
Boroumand was on a mission and was getting dangerously close to the back of Rasmussen for the lead of the race. Patrick Sipos was all over the back of Opmeer for P6, but he was the first to stop on the end of Lap 11.
Sipos was looking good, but sped into the pit-lane and earned a penalty for his troubles. Job was the first of the hard runners to dive into the pits as Boroumand got into the lead on Lap 14 into the Rettifilo chicane.
The battle for the lead was raging with Rasmussen re-taking the lead. However, his penalty could've ended his championship chances. The McLarens were battling as well, but Boroumand was doing just enough to keep his teammate behind.
Surprisingly, Opmeer and Benham ran the longest on their first stint, despite being on mediums. This was because they were changing to softs, so they were rapid in the closing stages.
The final lap started and Boroumand was challenging Rasmussen for the lead. The Iranian went around the outside into Turn 1 and was side-by-side with the Red Bull man out of the corner.
Blakeley joined the party to go three wide as contact between Boroumand and Rasumssen sent the pair into the wall. Both went out as Blakeley continued on to lead on the final lap.
Blakeley held off Leigh around the remainder of the lap to take a shock lead in the championship, what a dramatic ending!
Blakeley claimed his fourth win of the season to send him 15 points clear at the top of the championship tree. Leigh's second place was his highest finish of the season.
Dani Bereznay got his second podium of the campaign with P3 in his Alfa Romeo. Thomas Ronhaar had a quiet race and finish P4, with Joni Tormala another beneficiary of the penalties and drama, up to P5.
Opmeer was sixth thanks to his late-race charge and Job ended up P7 after his penalty. Wilson Hughes kept his nose clean and ranked P8, with Michael Romanidis going from 17th to 9th by the final flag.
The last points runner was Fabrizio Donoso as he classified tenth.
When's the next round?
PSGL's F1 series will now take a break until January, to allow for the new F1 esports season. Round 9 will keep PSGL in Italy and travel deeper into Ferrari territory for the Imola round of the season.
After Imola, there's just one round remaining in Season 31. The final will be hosted in Sao Paulo for the Brazilian Grand Prix.