David Tonizza demonstrated why he is the reigning champion, taking a win on the opening night of the 2020 F1 Esports Series. The FDA Hublot Esports Team driver won the second race, the Vietnam Grand Prix on the Hanoi street circuit. It was just what was needed after the Italian had been crashed into at the start of the first round in Bahrain. It was also a day of mixed fortunes for the team's second driver, Enzo Bonito. After failing to score points on the Sakhir track, in Hanoi he came home seventh.
Faultless race. On the Vietnam track that has never been used in anger following changes to the calendar, Tonizza missed out on pole by just 3 thousandths of a second, but he got off the line perfectly to overtake pole sitter Jarno Opmeer in the Alfa Romeo, who won the Bahrain round, trying to get out of DRS range which thanks to a straight almost 1.5 kilometres in length offers excellent overtaking opportunities for pursuers.
"Tonzilla", crowned champion at the end of last year, led for two laps before losing the lead to Opmeer, but he retook it on lap 7, just before pitting, around the time that Renault's Nicholas Longuet also got past the Dutch Alfa Romeo driver. David switched from Soft to Medium tyres and kept the lead, but soon after, thanks to the DRS tow, he lost the place to Longuet. Brandon Leigh (Mercedes) and Enzo Bonito stopped next time round and were sixth and seventh after the run of pit stops, overtaken also courtesy of an undercut from Fabrizio Donoso (Renault) and Frederik Rasmussen (Red Bull). Soon after, Bonito also had to give best to Marcel Kiefer (Red Bull) but Donoso received a penalty so the Italian driver was seventh in the final standings. Tonizza stuck to Longuet's gearbox and with three laps to go attacked and passed at the end of the long straight. It was a dress rehearsal for the great move that would clinch the win. On the 18th and penultimate lap, the Frenchman retook the lead at the same corner but "Tonzilla" kept his cool and tailed the Renault before getting past for good in the middle of the final lap. This was his fourth F1 Esports Series win, the perfect response after a bad first race in Bahrain.
All wrong. The FDA Esports Team struggled right from qualifying in the Sakhir race, with David and Enzo unable to do better than ninth and eleventh respectively, partly down to connection issues. Just as in real races, starting in the middle of the pack always carries a high risk of problems at the start. That's exactly what happened to Tonizza, who on lap 2 was hit by Manuel Biancolilla in the AlphaTauri. His front wing was badly damaged so he had to make an unscheduled stop which lasted 6 seconds. From then on Tonizza was racing down the back of the pack in 20th, and the fact that the driver to blame for the crash was given a five second penalty was no consolation.
At least David was credited with the race fastest lap. Things did not go much better for Enzo. In the number 74 car, he started eleventh on Mediums and lost a few place duelling for a long time outside the points with cars running Softs. Bonito was also hit by another car, this time Daniele Haddad's Racing Point, and he crossed the line 14th, which later became 13th after his rival was given a five second penalty.
Tomorrow. The first round of the 2020 F1 Esports Series ends tomorrow with the third race, with a backdrop of the Shanghai International Circuit, another track that has had to go without a real Grand Prix in this unusual 2020 Formula 1 season.