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NEW BLOOD: Shields, Blakeley and Longuet Make Debuts

November 30, 2019

Race nine. It’s a fair way into the championship to make your F1 Esports Pro Series Debut! Nonetheless, Daniel Shields, Lucas Blakely, and Nicolas Longuet all made that important first step at Event 3.

Racing for Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports, SportPesa Racing Point Esports and Red Bull Racing Esports respectively, the trio were all picked to contest the 2019 Pro Series at the Pro Draft, making them three of the fortunate ten to be added to the already considerable pool of talent for the 2019 Pro Series.

With each team having three signed drivers on their roster, rotating drivers is a tricky task for team principals. Split them evenly and keep everyone happy? Put the strongest drivers in for their best tracks? Risk losing ground in the drivers’ championship to ensure points for the teams? It’s enough to give any manager a headache…

But having three fantastic drivers at your disposal is certainly a nice problem to have. And so it was, that at Race 9 around Monza, three new challengers got their shot.

SHIELDS AND BLAKELY ON THE BOARD

“It wasn’t exactly how I planned it,” began Mercedes debutant Daniel Shields.

“But it was really good fun. I had some good battles in there too. Starting from 19th on a track like Monza, it was either going to be really good or really bad. I had a couple of collisions, but it was still good fun!”

Indeed, Mercedes have not quite reached the same heights as their double-championship campaign in 2018. The digital silver arrows sit eighth in the teams’ standings currently. With Brendon Leigh and Patrik Krutyj amassing 61 points so far, they won’t be defending their title from last year. So with nothing to lose, it was time to deploy their Australian. He’s now got one eye on the Grand Final, with fingers crossed that he gets another outing.

“I want to race again – it’s certainly better than sitting in the stands! The main goal will be to race and get points,” he summarised.

“If we can qualify better it’ll make things a lot easier in the race too. In terms of the championship standings, we’ll just try and do our best.”

CHAMPIONSHIP FOCUS

Mercedes’ next target in the championship is Racing Point, who currently occupy seventh spot, with 71 points. And although he was able to add to his sqaud’s tally at Monza, Blakely relished the opportunity.

“It was always gonna be tough starting in the midfield in P15… but it was SO MUCH FUN!

“I don’t know how many overtakes I made, but before the stop I made a lot of places, then after the pit stop I had to make more ground up.”

Blakely was memorable brought to tears in July’s Pro Draft. Years of practice, as he saw it, paid off with the ultimate prize – being part of an F1 team. He may not have scored, but racing against some of the best in the was its own reward.

“To get that first race in the books and have a hell of a lot of fun doing it? I can’t complain too much!”

Art imitates life. SportPesa Racing Point Esports are embroiled in a close midfield scrap, much like their on-track counterparts. Just two points separate the pink digital team from next-best Williams (73 pts), with McLaren another 10 points up the road, on 81. The Flying Scotsman has every intention of jumping back in the rig for the Grand Final, and hunting down those points.

“I definitely want to race, that’s for sure! We’ve just got to go hard, work tremendously and really nail everything, and try and come back stronger.”

DREAM DEBUT FOR LONGUET

The third and final fresh pair of legs in Event 3 belonged to Red Bull’s Nicolas Longuet.

With race-winner and title contender Frede Rasmussen as a team mate, the expectations were always going to be high. He already smashed all expectations by putting his car on the second row of the grid, out-pacing Rasmussen who lined up fifth.

A good result for the Dane would’ve seen him almost level on points with points leader David Tonizza, but he endured a race from hell and crossed the line P20 and last.

Cue an inspired drive drive from Longuet.

His first trick was to catapult past reigning champion Brendon Leigh on the line and slide into second place. Then, on Lap 5, he had the nerve, skill and opportunity to pass man-in-form Dani Bereznay for the lead of the race!

After a debut like that, don’t be surprised to see more of the Frenchman in the Grand Final.

His team Red Bull Racing Esports sit pretty on top of the teams’ standings with 181 points, gapping Ferrari Driver Academy by 35 points. With 132 points still theoretically on the table, it’s far from over. But a repeat of this performance – for Longuet, Rasmussen, or Joni Tormala – will count massively in their favour.

Who’ll come out on top? Tune in to the Grand Final to find out on Wednesday December 4. Catch it live on Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, with select broadcast partners, and right here on F1Esports.com!

Charlie Eustice




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