The Scuderia Ferrari Velas Esports team was looking to end the season on a high note and so it did, bringing home what was, by a long way, the best points haul of the year, with 34 points, compared to 17 in the first and third rounds. However, there were no standout results, so that Brendon Leigh’s third place in Austin is the season’s only podium, but this strong finish meant the team bids farewell to the 2022 Pro Championship with many positives to take into its preparation for next season, when it will have to step up a notch. Fabrizio Donoso did best this week, making it to Q3 in both his races in Japan and Sao Paulo. There were highs and lows for Brendon Leigh who struggled in qualifying, never making it out of Q1 in the three races. David Tonizza took part in just the last race in Abu Dhabi but went out in Q2.
Japan. At Suzuka, Brendon paid a high price for not having another run in qualifying, which meant he started from 17th. Fabrizio was eighth, even though his best time was cancelled. Starting on Hards, he lost a place, while Leigh fought his way up the order to 13th. Fabrizio then found himself fifth, partly because others had pitted, but the Chilean rejoined 12th having switched to Mediums. Brendon did a very long stint, getting as high as fourth, before dropping to 16th after the pit stop. In the closing stages, both Ferrari drivers were on a charge: Fabrizio fought with Dani Bereznay in the Alfa Romeo and the Haas of Matthijs Van Erven, but a penalty meant he dropped from eighth to ninth. Brendon did an excellent job on fresher tyres than the others to make up ground, coming home sixth thanks to a great passing move on Van Erven on the last lap.
Sao Paulo. Donoso was on great form at Interlagos, claiming third place on the grid, just 15 thousandths off pole position. Leigh again had to start from 17th. At the start, running intermediate tyres on a wet track, Fabrizio kept third place, while Brendon was soon up to 14th. At half-distance Donoso dropped a place, while Leigh was still bogged down in the second half of the pack. A switch to Medium tyres meant Fabrizio was still a front runner, taking the flag in fifth place, his best result. Brendon made a second stop to change tyres and so he could do no better than 17th.
Abu Dhabi. For the final race of the season, David Tonizza stepped in to replace Donoso, but neither he nor Leigh made it to Q3, ending up 13th and 16th respectively. In the early stages they both took it easy, looking to save their tyres for the second part of the race. Brendon was the first of the pair to stop, when lying eighth, while David lengthened his stint, banking on going on the attack in the second part. They worked as a team, swapping places on lap 27. On fresh rubber, Tonizza was thus able to pass Bari Borumand (McLaren Shadow) and a spin from Patrick Sipos (Alpine F1 Esports Team) meant he took the chequered flag in sixth place, later promoted to fifth when Alvaro Carreton (Williams Esports) was penalised, his best result of the season. Leigh was in the points in eighth. The team championship was won by McLaren Shadow, with the Scuderia Ferrari Velas Esports Team seventh on 79 points. Lucas Blakeley (McLaren Shadow) won the drivers’ title, Leigh, Tonizza and Donoso were eighth, 14th and 15th respectively.
Brendon Leigh Sim Driver #72
Qualifying was our Achilles Heel in our search for good results. Race pace, overtaking, strategy were generally pretty good and I say that from a team perspective, looking at the performance of my team-mates.
As this season ends, it’s clear we’ve got a lot of work to do in the off-season to prepare for next year. It will be a short break and then we can come back quicker and stronger than ever, making the most of every single day of this break to be at our best for 2023.
Fabrizio Donoso Sim Driver #8
The season is over. As for myself, I had a good round and my team-mates also did well with some strong recoveries and overtakes in Japan and Abu Dhabi. I was very happy with my qualifying, making it to Q3 in Japan and Brazil, where third place was my best result ever.
I am also pleased with the way Brendon and I raced in Suzuka. We worked really well as a team and that showed on track and when looking at how many points we scored.
David Tonizza Sim Driver #95
I only raced in Abu Dhabi and I’d say there was just one significant negative factor in what was overall a positive event. The problem was qualifying, as was already the case several times this year. With a better grid position, I could have aimed for a top three finish, especially when looking at how many places I made up.
Overall, it was a good race and we scored a lot of points. Looking at the season as a whole, we definitely cannot be happy and all through the year, qualifying was our weak point.
Marco Matassa Team Principal Scuderia Ferrari Velas Esports Team
The outcome of the season is not a good one. We lined up at the start of the year with the intention of being front runners, especially in the battle for the teams’ title and finishing seventh is just not good enough. Nevertheless, I was impressed with the aggressive approach from the team in this round and that paid off given that we picked up 34 points, twice as many as we scored in the first and third rounds, which had been our best results up until now.
We will take on board how we tackled these three days of racing when it comes to preparing for next season. It’s clear that we will have to radically change our approach. I thank our engineers and drivers and I would say to our fans that we will be back in 2023 with a very different outlook to that of the past few championships.