The first round of the F1 Esports Series Pro Championship 2022, with races at Sakhir, Imola and Silverstone, did not go as well as the Scuderia Ferrari Velas Esports Team had hoped, with the results not living up to expectations, despite the 3-driver strategy of using Brendon Leigh in all three races, with Fabrizio Donoso competing in Bahrain and Great Britain and David Tonizza racing at the Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit. The trio struggled in qualifying which then meant they had to fight their way up through the midfield. The Maranello sim drivers have usually been adept at this but with the driving at a very high standard across the board, making it to the podium was practically impossible. The team therefore only picked up 18 points, thanks to four top-ten finishes which puts it sixth in the classification. Brendon was seventh in Sakhir and Silverstone, David eighth at Imola and Fabrizio ninth at Silverstone.
Sakhir. Not the best of qualifying sessions for the Scuderia Ferrari Velas Esports Team, with Donoso eighth and Leigh 12th. Fabrizio spun just after the start, dropping to the back of the pack, while Brendon was just outside the points. They ran a different strategy to the majority of the field, staying out for a long stint on Hard tyres, followed by a short stint on Softs, while many others went for a Hard-Medium choice. Leigh got the most out of this plan and even led at half distance, but in the end he had to settle for seventh behind the leading train, to claim six points. Donoso also made up some places but took the flag in 14th. The race was won by Lucas Blakeley (McLaren Shadow) ahead of Jarno Opmeer (Mercedes F1 Esports) and Bari Borumand (McLaren Shadow).
Imola. Twenty cars lined up at Imola and David Tonizza replaced Fabrizio for his home race. Qualifying was again difficult with Brendon 12th and David only 15th, having made a few mistakes. Leigh got a great start, but shortly after he collided with Jarno Opmeer, damaging his car and having to settle for racing at the back. One consolation, he did set the fastest race lap. Tonizza had a solid race, doing well to make up seven places on his way to finishing eighth. But it didn’t make up for the disappointment of qualifying. Lucas Blakeley made it two wins in a row ahead of Marcel Kiefer and Frederik Rasmussen (Red Bull F1 Esports).
Silverstone. Donoso was back alongside Leigh for the third race. Brendon made it to Q3 but was only tenth, while Fabrizio was a bit further back in 12th. The race was fairly straightforward, with both drivers always fighting in the top ten. After the tyre stop, Leigh managed to get up to sixth, but then lost the place to Opmeer in the closing stages. Donoso did well to make up a place thus bringing home his first points as a Scuderia Ferrari Velas Esports Team driver. Rasmussen won ahead of Thomas Ronhaar (Haas F1 Team Esports) and Lucas Blakeley. There is clearly work to do for the next three races, which take place from 12 to 14 October at the Spielberg, Spa-Francorchamps and Zandvoort tracks.
Brendon Leigh, Sim Driver #72
"Basically we’ve got a bit of pace to find in qualifying trim. The race strategy was on point, so I’m positive about the following events and I think we need to our flying lap performance of the car so we can maximise our potential starting right from the next event."
Fabrizio Donoso, Sim Driver #8
"I think all in all it’s clear we need to improve a lot in qualifying, so this is what we will focus on most in the upcoming training sessions. Race pace was fine, but if you start too far back you can only make up a few places. I think we are working well as a team, so we must continue to do that, analyse the data from this event carefully and correct some small mistakes which cost us in all three Round 1 races."
David Tonizza, Sim Driver #95
"In the one race I did, the most disappointing aspect was qualifying. I made a couple of mistakes in Q2 which meant I could not get to Q3. However, in the race we saw our race pace was on a level with the best and so I was able to make up several places. I will prepare even more for the coming races, because I’m sure our potential is far higher than the results suggest."
Marco Matassa, Team Principal Scuderia Ferrari Velas Esports Team
"I can’t deny we were expecting more from the first event of the season. Qualifying performance had a significant effect on how Brendon, Fabrizio and David got on in the races and that is definitely the area we must concentrate on in training next week. Having said that, we saw that our three drivers were able to make up ground in the race and finish in the points, confirming their undoubted abilities. We will prepare every last detail for the next event and I am sure we can come back stronger at Spielberg, Spa-Francorchamps and Zandvoort."