Lucas Blakeley: ‘Monaco was the Best and Worst 20 Laps Ever!’

Lucas Blakeley: ‘Monaco was the Best and Worst 20 Laps Ever!’

May 26, 2020

Fangio. Trintignant. Brabham. Hulme. Beltoise. Depailler. Patrese. Panis. Trulli. And now, Blakeley.

Lucas Blakeley joins a very exclusive club of drivers who won for the very first time on the streets of Monte Carlo.

The BWT Racing Point F1 Esports driver’s efforts were virtual, rather than on-track of course, taking his win in the F1 Esports Pro Exhibition race on Sunday. But nonetheless, the cheery Scot was elated to the point of near-speechlessness at his achievement during the show.

“I’ve got no words, honestly! I don’t know what to think right now, but that was the best and worst 20 laps I’ve ever done!”

Blakeley’s victory was a combination of hell-for-leather driving, and a cunning strategy. In the 20-lap race, he dared to pit at the end of the very first lap, ditching his soft tyres for a set of mediums. This was to be crucial. Race leader Brendon Leigh then pitted on Lap 2, but lost several seconds waiting for others to pass in the pit lane.

Polesitter David Tonizza had a much more timely stop, but such was the speed of Blakeley’s first two laps on fresh rubber, he couldn’t hold him back either. A flawless undercut, and track position for Blakeley. But that was just half the battle. Now, he had a raging Tonzilla behind him for 17 laps of the most difficult circuit on the calendar.

“Everyone thinks that once you’re in the lead at Monaco that’s it… when you have the reigning champion behind you? It’s really really difficult. His tyres were two laps fresher, so I had no grip left at the end.”

Most would take track position over tyre freshness in Monaco, with the circuit being nigh-on impossible at which to overtake. Still, the pressure was relentless, and a cool head was needed.

The game’s in-game penalty system is never more unforgiving than in Monaco. Though the metal barriers are there to punish anyone careless enough to wander close to them, there are several corners that have no inside barrier; Saint Devote, the Nouvelle Chicane, and the Swimming Pool complex. One pixel over these parameters can ruin your race, as Juan Manuel Correa cruelly found out in the F2 Virtual Racing Sprint Race.

“I was one warning off of a penalty from Lap 8, so I was terrified the whole race of making a mistake. I’ve never concentrated more in my entire life to bring that one back.”

Blakeley’s first podium in the 2019 F1 Esports Pro Series came in similar circumstances – pitting early and then blitzing the empty track. He finished second in that race, but now moves up to the top step for the very first time. A sign of things to come?

“The emotions when I came across the line were absolutely ridiculous. It’s a massive relief to be able to pull it off and win a race, I can’t really put it into words.

“For sure it’s gonna give me a bit more of a boost. The first one’s always the hardest – at least I hope it is, because that was really difficult!”

Catch Blakeley, Tonizza, Leigh and the rest of the F1 Esports Pro Series stars next time out, as they take on the Azerbaijan Pro Exhibiton race, from 16.00 UTC on Sunday June 7.

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