The Ferrari Driver Academy Esports Team made good progress over the two days of the second round of the F1 Esports Series Pro Championship. The first day had some highs and lows while on Thursday, the team was in the hunt for the win and secured its first podium finish of the season. That was not only a confidence boost, it also showed that the team is on the right path since the disappointment of the first round, although there’s still a way to go and lots of work to do to get to the top, which is the FDA Esports Team’s stated goal.
First day. On Wednesday, Silverstone and Monza provided the backdrop for the second round and again, the team had a fight on its hands. At Silverstone, Brendon Leigh qualified 10th and David Tonizza was not even in the top ten. However, they both put on a classy performance in the race to finish sixth and tenth respectively. Monza qualifying showed the first signs of real progress even if it wasn’t evident on the stopwatch. Both drivers had the potential to be front runners but mistakes meant they didn’t make the cut to Q3. They hoped to make up for it in the race, but Brendon was involved in a collision when lying ninth while David, who had done a great job of closing on the leaders, had to take a penalty for a collision with Frederik Rasmussen in the Red Bull, which dropped him from fourth to 15th.
Change of fortune. Finally, in the race run at Spa-Francorchamps, David and Brendon managed to make the most of their potential right from qualifying. They both got to Q3 with Tonizza taking his first pole of the season. David chose to start on Wets rather than Intermediates and that didn’t work out, robbing him of the chance of the win which was within his grasp. The Italian driver reacted by pitting to change tyres and took off with the bit between his teeth to finish third with a moral-boosting pass on Marcel Kiefer (Red Bull) on the last lap. Brendon was once again caught up in a collision which dropped him down the order.
Championship. There were positive signs over the two days, but that’s not reflected in the standings. David is ninth on 28 points, Brendon 11th on 20, while Jarno Opmeer (Mercedes) leads on 101 followed by Lucas Blakeley (Aston Martin) with 87 and the winners of the races in this round, Rasmussen at Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps and Kiefer at Monza, on 78 and 62 respectively. In the teams’ classification, the FDA Esports Team has moved up to sixth on 48 points, with Mercedes and Red Bull leading on 140. The next round is on 24 and 25 November with races at Portimão, Zandvoort and Circuit of the Americas (Austin).
David Tonizza, Sim driver
"Very tough races in this round. At Silverstone we had a great race, with many overtakes but it wasn’t enough to get a good result. In Monza I had managed to recover to P4 but I had a collision and was penalised, so it’s a shame for the result. The final round in Spa saw me starting from pole and then unfortunately we were really unlucky with the strategy, but we did the best in the race and came away with a podium!"
Brendon Leigh, Sim driver
"In Silverstone we started P10 and ended P6 making up a lot of positions thanks to a perfect strategy, so it’s the best we could have done. Monza should have been a special one, the home race for Ferrari but on my side I’ve been unlucky as I was put in the wall in the end, so I ended P19, but we had a good pace. For Spa, there was heavy rain for the start of the race. We started P8, but then I was very unlucky with the strategy as the weather changed quickly, so we got caught out from the pit strategy. On to the next one!"
Marco Matassa, Team Principal
"We came away from the second round of the season with exactly the same points tally as from the first one. However, what was clear to see over the past two days was a clear desire to do better exhibited by the whole team. We made progress in qualifying and after a poor performance in race 1 at Silverstone, only a couple of mistakes from the sim drivers prevented us from getting on the front row at Monza. On the second day, a pole for David and eighth with Brendon showed how much we have done over the past two weeks. We were front-runners in the races, with Brendon making up five places at Silverstone and David securing our first podium finish at Spa-Francorchamps. It’s not enough, given the lead the first two teams have in the classification, but we’re going in the right direction and that should encourage us to do even better. We’re halfway through the series with six races still to go and I believe we have everything in place to continue to improve. We need to step up a gear and I expect that to happen starting with the next round."