Ferrari’s Tonizza dominates on F1 debut as Mercedes struggles
David Tonizza won twice for Ferrari as it made its F1 Esports debut, while defending champions Mercedes failed to register a podium.
The 17-year-old Italian won the first race at Bahrain, following a clash while battling for the lead with Alfa Romeo’s Daniel Bereznay. Bereznay locked his brakes into Turn 4 and hit the Ferrari, causing him to spin and collect the innocent Red Bull of Frederik Rasmussen.
Rasmussen received endplate damage and neither he nor Bereznay scored points. Tonizza lost a minimal amount of time and handed Ferrari a maiden F1 Esports victory, with ex-Formula Renault Eurocup racer Jarno Opmeer taking second place for Renault.
The second Alfa Romeo of Salih Saltunc completed the podium ahead of Racing Point’s Marcel Kiefer and defending double champion Brendon Leigh, who rose to fifth from 10th on the grid.
Tonizza made it two wins from two in China, beating Rasmussen by just 0.516s over the line. Kiefer continued his strong start with third place.
Bereznay’s nightmare day continued. He started from pole position and led a one-two with team-mate Saltunc early on until Bereznay’s brake pedal failed. “I can’t be this unlucky,” an exasperated Bereznay exclaimed after the incident.
The final race was at Baku and was dominated by Rasmussen – despite the 19-year-old Danish driver admitting to Motorsport.com pre-race that his Baku pace was “not amazing.”
After Williams failed to score in either of the first two races, Tino Naukkarinen replaced Isaac Price and immediately rewarded the team with second place. Tonizza completed the podium and leaves the first round with a 22-point advantage in the drivers’ championship over Rasmussen.
Leigh was demoted to 11th in China after a post-race penalty for contact with sim racing veteran Bono Huis (McLaren) but drove to fourth from ninth in Baku.
His team-mate Patryk Krutyj struggled on his F1 Esports return, with an eighth-place finish in China providing his only points.
It leaves Ferrari as the teams’ championship leaders after its maiden esports event. Red Bull is second and Racing Point rounds out the top three, with defending champions Mercedes down in eighth place.
NASCAR Heat 4 Gold Edition available now
Gamer Gasly wants to get more involved in sim racing