"There is a lot of strong competition" - Lucas Blakeley on his first win and F1 Esports title chances

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There is perhaps no closer racing championship than F1 Esports. With razor-thin margins in qualifying, where the top 10 are often separated by just 0.15 seconds, it can be incredibly hard for someone to break through and become a race winner.

But that's exactly what Lucas Blakeley did in the first round of the 2021 F1 Esports Series Pro Championship. Following a titanic battle around Bahrain, Blakeley is now an F1 Esports race winner.

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We sat down with Aston Martin's flying Scotsman to discuss his win, the championship, and the upcoming Event 2.

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Taking the chequered flag

Lucas Blakeley may not be one of the most established names on the F1 Esports grid, but he is quickly becoming a fan favourite and one of the fastest drivers in the series.

The Scot burst onto the scene in 2019, picking up a podium in just his second F1 Esports race ever in Suzuka. He then snatched a win at Monaco in a Pro Exhibition race during lockdown in 2020. The 2020 F1 Esports season didn't go to plan, but in 2021 he has bounced back in impressive fashion.

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VICTORY ROAR: Blakeley let his emotions out after his first F1 Esports win

A strong showing in league racing before this season has translated to success on the F1 Esports grid, and that maiden win in Bahrain.

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"It was a good battle." Said Lucas when discussing his win. "Even though there was such intense pressure and I knew exactly what was on the line... All these things considered it was quite fun!"

Lucas has that remarkable ability to both take his racing extremely seriously but also maintain the excitement and joy that we all have during those intense battles. It's that mindset that has made him a race winner at last.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQul94guq54

"I didn't go into Event 1 with any expectations. I was more focused on the moment, and doing the job at hand. Everything else prior is just build-up, I focus on getting the job done first."

Blakeley's initial attempt at retaking the lead on the penultimate lap wasn't successful, but he talked us through exactly what the plan was.

"Even though I didn't get past on the penultimate lap that wasn't necessarily the main goal. If I get past then great, but even if I don't it means I've made him use more power and I can get past on the next lap, which is what it turned out to be. It was like an active game of chess, it got very close in the end! I completely lost my head as I crossed the line."

A title contender?

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Coming out of the first two races Blakeley was tied at the top of the Drivers Standings with reigning champion and 2021 favourite Jarno Opmeer.

It was entirely unfamiliar territory for Blakeley, and he will come into Event 2 second in the championship, with Aston Martin second in the Teams Championship.

So after a hot start, can Blakeley be a true title contender this season?

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TAKING CHARGE: Blakeley didn't hesitate to take the lead into turn 1

"It's a day-by-day process. Naturally, as a driver you are interested in the drivers' standings, but I am very consciously not paying attention to it. I know if I get the results in the races that side of it is going to take care of itself. [...] You can't take it for granted, people will be working flat out to get back up to speed and focused on the next three races."

Lucas may not want to think about title chances just yet, but a strong showing at Event 2 and it will become even harder to block out. He's got a lot of support around him to stay at the front though.

Lucas has been working with his teammates Danielle Haddad and Shanaka Clay for quite a while now, and that familiarity has helped the team prepare for this season. Preparation that has to be perfect given the unlimited testing time and tiny margin for error there are in F1 Esports.

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DREAM COME TRUE: It's been a long road but Lucas Blakeley has ticked F1 Esports winner off his bucket list

"It means we know what annoys each other!" Lucas joked, "It's useful. The chemistry is a bit more understanding and you know that when someone feeds back X and Y you will be able to read it and understand it and relate it to yourself. Which over time is a useful asset."

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"The one thing with F1 Esports, it's all the small details that make the biggest difference." He said, "There's a lot of strong competition in this championship [...] Just because we were good in Event 1 doesn't mean we will be fast in Event 2."

Strong competition yes, but few have been as consistently strong as Blakeley on F1 2021.

Event 2 and beyond

The next round of F1 Esports takes the drivers to three very well-known tracks: Silverstone, Monza, and Spa.

"I always enjoy driving Silverstone, especially when you get in the groove." Said Lucas, for whom Silverstone is always a home race.

"Belgium has been quite good for me so far, but it's also a very random track. The kerbs are very lethal. You're left with no choice but to send it and hope are lucky enough to get away with all of the kerbs!"

"You've got to have very good confidence in Monza to send it on the brakes and dive into chicanes. It's going to be a challenge for all three circuits but will hopefully be a good one for us."

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PUSHING TO THE TOP: Aston Martin are working hard to get the most out of every race as they can

It will be important to have strong results on these three familiar tracks, as two entirely new ones are coming up later in the season. The F1 community have been huge fans of Portimao and Imola, which are almost certainly Codemasters' best work with tracks.

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"The one that surprises me most is Portimao. I've driven that quite a bit now and I enjoy driving it. It's good fun, it's like a rollercoaster with all the hills and the braking zones, it's very challenging."

Getting the car dialled in on the new circuits will be the difference between a good points haul and a poor result.

Event 2 of the F1 Esports Pro Championships kicks off on 27-28 October and is available to watch via official Formula 1 channels on FacebookYouTube, and Twitch. For full information about the Pro Championship visit: https://www.f1esports.com/