Lucas Blakeley Reborn: The Dark Horse of 2021?
November 22, 2021
In 2020, the team finished dead last. The man, Lucas Blakeley scored a handful of points. And yet, with six races remaining in 2021, the Scottish sensation is just 14 points adrift of reigning champion Jarno Opmeer. A man of many words, we caught up with the Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Esports racer ahead of Event 3, to see how heâs fine-tuning his approach to a title assault.
âIâve driven betterâ he began, having been asked how heâs managed such a dramatic change of pace.
âBut thatâs not the biggest difference. There were a lot of small and big details last year that were completely wrong, which fundamentally didnât allow us to be as competitive as we are this year.
âWhen I look back to last year, Iâm not really surprised we werenât competitive. If you stand still, youâre going to go straight backwards. You have to stay hungry and continue to want it bad enough. If you get complacent and think âyep, Iâm quick enoughâ, you wonât reach perfection. Thatâs the only thing thatâs going to allow you to win. Weâve seen how close the gaps are this year and itâs almost unhuman!â
AS YET UNTITLED
Much like the on-track duel between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, the 2021 F1 Esports Series Pro Championship presented by Aramco has been the closest contest for years. Okay, so maybe weâre only in our fifth year of F1 Esports, but it still counts! Jarno Opmeer is by no means guaranteed to retain his crown, and there are plenty of takers. Is Blakeley the heir to the throne?
âI donât really think about the championship too much, because all youâre going to do by that is overcomplicate your thought process. Iâm trying to take each session and each lap as it comes – thereâs no point in thinking âwhat am I going to do at Round 12?â when itâs not even round 7 yet.â
âItâs a good feeling to be up there, and itâs testament to how much hard work has gone into it. The hard work is not done though, you always have to keep pushing, there have been a lot of positives from this year, but still a lot of things we can improve on.
âI have to believe I can catch Jarno. If my answer was âno I donât believe I can do it, heâs faster than meâ, then what use would that be?!â
Itâs been a mixed season so far, with new winners, new polesitters, and a new order. Old faces like Nico Longuet, Frede Rasmussen and Marcel Kiefer are all in the mix, while characters like Blakeley and Bari Boroumand have shot up the ranks.
âIn that Bahrain race, I was having so much fun, my heart rate was through the roof, when youâre confident and in that groove, itâs the best feeling to be at the front, jostling for position. The pressure is always high, but if you get yourself in the right headspace and have the confidence in yourself, everything feels natural. Itâs a new position to be in, but itâs something Iâve been longing for, so I want to make the best of it and trying to push for the next six races.â
SIX OF THE BEST
The halfway point of the season is as good a time as any to pause and reflect on the season so far. And while the second event didnât match the status of the first for Blakeley, there is a lot to smile about.
âIâve not given myself a stupid ego. Iâve been realistic and grounded and havenât taken anything for granted. After Event 1, I think it would have been easy for me to get carried away. But going into Event 2, I probably wasnât as confident as for the first one, and thatâs because I donât take anything from the last event as a guarantee of success for the future.
âItâs all about arriving in that particular session, doing as best you can and delivering in that moment. If I can do exactly that for the remaining six races, the championships will take care of themselves. My aim is to get confident, and keep a positive mindset. Itâs been a positive first half to the season, so letâs try and make it a positive next half.â
With the first two events just two weeks apart, there was very little time to rest, with drivers having to nail six circuits over the span of just a fortnight. With more room to breathe for the third instalment, practice is somewhat less relentless â but never out of sight completely…
âBetween Events 1-2, the gap was so small, so practically from the moment you wake up youâre on the rig, then you come off the rig and go straight to sleep. Thankfully we have a bit more time between Events 2-3.
âOn a full day, youâd start driving at around 10, but wouldnât finish driving until 11. Youâd have breaks for lunch and dinner of course, but Iâd say a light day is probably about six hours. Some people might think six hours isnât that long, but weâre trying to extract performance, so you need full focus. Itâs tiring, so when you can you try and take a break.
âIn the past Iâve not had any breaks, so I take any opportunities I can to rest in between weeks. Itâs a lot of hours, youâre really trying to train the muscle memory into yourself and get the confidence. People see it as âyou play a game, it should be funâ, but this is the top level. Weâre all out here trying to achieve our own goals, so itâs a lot deeper than a game in that respect, itâs relentless!â
Practice alone does not a champion make. Blakeleyâs marginal gains approach is something that can be applied to all walks of life. One cannot simply improve at driving and hope for the best; if you donât have a 360-degree approach to all things in your life that contribute, you will go nowhere.
Rituals and routines are important, and he says heâs found one that works for him.
âOn the morning of a race, I tend to get up at 7AM and go for a run. In the build-up to an event I will try to condition myself mentally and feel good physically. Iâm not the fittest guy in the world but I go for a nice steady run in the morning, get some fresh air, and get the heart rate up. You can let your thoughts flow, listen to music, and itâs like a warm-up to the driving.
âWhen youâre qualifying, if you go straight from bed to the rig and then jump into the severe pressure of an Esports qualifying session, your heart rate just flies up, and itâs a massive rush of adrenaline and nerves all at once.â
By now, weâre all familiar with the effects of lockdowns and being within the same four walls for extended periods of time. But even when youâre on a tight schedule and need to put in the hours, the rest is just as important as the work.
âWhen Iâm practicing intensely, itâs always good to get outside. I donât do it often enough because Iâm always in this room, but getting outside is good because it can totally change your mood, the fresh airâs excellent.
âAt the end of the day, you need to be happy. If youâre not happy, you start to wonder why youâre not, and itâs important to be mentally in a good place. When it comes to performance, you need to be in a good state, you need to be positive and confident, so itâs all in the small details. The smallest details can give you the biggest results.â
Lucas Blakeley and co will be hunting down championship leader Jarno Opmeer as Event 3 gets under way! Join us from 19:30 UTC on Twitch, YouTube, Facebook and on TV in selected regions as the racing resumes.
Share this article