Hype Energy eForce India's Marcel Kiefer Gets Podium in F1 Esports Pro Series
11 October 2018 | Ravenol Marketing
Yesterday was the first round of the inaugural F1 New Balance Esports Pro Series. 9 Formula One Teams have entered a team, including our Technical Partners, Force India, under the team name Hype Energy eForce India. Of their three drivers, this time only Fabrizio Donoso Delgado and Marcel Kiefer took part, with Mads Sørensen helping them with their setup from the sidelines.
The competition takes part on the new 2018 Codemasters, and involves practice and qualifying sessions, before a 25% race set on digital versions of real F1 race tracks. The settings match real conditions, such as track abrasiveness, temperature and weather conditions, so drivers must monitor a variety of sensors and manage their tyres, just as in a normal race.
This three races in this session were Melbourne – Australia, Shanghai – China and Baku – Azerbaijan. For Race 1, Fabrizio qualified in P6 and Marcel in P8. Unfortunately, after contact Marcel slipped down to the back and struggled to find pace after that (the clever system will calculate the aerodynamic and mechanical effects of any damage and adjust the driver’s speed). Meanwhile Fabrizio was doing really well – having initially slipped a couple of places, he made them back and was up into 7th. Unfortunately he was slapped with a time penalty and demoted to 11th, just outside the points, but still ahead of team mate Marcel in 13th.
At the front of the field, last year’s champion Brandon Leigh had an impressive drive in his Mercedes to take the first victory ahead of his team mate Daniel Bereznay.
Race 2 had wet qualifying, which has thrown a spanner into the works. Both eForce India drivers had qualified really strongly, with Fabrizio in 3rd and Marcel in 4th for a second row lock out. Right on Lap 1, Marcel got the jump on his team mate. Brandon Leigh who had started further back was soon on Fabrizio’s tail, and a mistake from the young driver on Lap 2 allowed last year’s F1 eRacing champion to get past. A lap later, Leigh was challenging Marcel, but he managed to hold him off before diving into the pits. Brandon stayed out, as did Toro Rosso driver Frederick Rasmussen. When Rasmussen did come in he managed to leapfrog both HypeEnergy eForce India drivers, suggesting the overcut works well in the crowded short-race conditions. Thankfully Rasmussen had a time penalty, so it didn’t affect their overall positions.
When Leigh did come into the pits, he also managed to get past the eForce Indias and soon made short work of the slower Enzo Bonito in the McLaren Shadow. Bonito started holding up Marcel, but he managed to pass him on Lap 8. Meanwhile Fabrizio had worked his way back up into 10th after his own pitstop. As the drivers ahead of them came in for their pits, the ePink Panthers kept moving up the field until they were in 4th and 5th. Then right at the end, Marcel managed to get past Rasmussen to take 3rd behind Leigh and Bereznay in the Mercedes, so a first podium for Marcel and e-Force India in Race 2. Behind him, Fabrizio was also promoted into 4th after Rasmussen’s time penalty, meaning a decent points haul was guaranteed for Session 1.
Next up was Baku, for the narrow street race through the city streets – the team’s advice? “Keep pushing and try to keep it out of the wall.”
Marcel qualified in 12th, with Fabrizio further back in 17th, so it was always going to be a tough race – as well as being a difficult track to overtake on, the short race distance puts extra importance on qualifying as there’s little time to make up positions. To try to gain an advantage, the pair split their strategies, with Marcel coming into the pits early, whilst Fabrizio stayed out for a longer first stint.
Ahead there was a great battle for the lead between Leigh and Rasmussen for 2nd place, the pair almost going into each other and the walls several times, certainly giving the impression that the eRacing version of Baku is a lot friendlier than the real car wrecker we’ve come to love. But that took nothing away from the passionate racing on the track. Race leader Bereznay made a mistake, and Rasmussen was soon past him, followed by Leigh.
Further back, Marcel’s strategy appeared not to be paying off as he was still in 16th, whilst Fabrizio had made it up into 11th and was pushing hard to get into the points positions.
In the closing laps, Leigh managed to get past Rasmussen to take the lead, and the fans were looking at another Mercedes whitewash as team mate Bereznay came back into the fight as well. Rasmussen fought back with DRS, braking so late he almost went into the wall. Leigh somehow held on.
Fabrizio finally made it into the points, then made up another place on the last lap to take 9th, whilst Marcel had to settle for 15th. But the drama was not over at the front – right on the home straight, Rasmussen finally managed to get past Leigh to take the race win for Toro Rosso.
So after Session 1’s first 3 races, Marcel Kiefer is currently 8th in the drivers’ standings with 15 points, followed by team mate Fabrizio with 14 points. Hype Energy eForce India have 29 points, making them level with McLaren Shadow in 4th. Next up is Session 2 in a few weeks' time, on Wednesday the 31st of October. Will it be a pumpkin smasher or a Halloween nightmare for the ePink Panthers?
Photo c/o F1 Esports Hype Energy eForce India bio