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Aston Martin wins on F1 Esports debut

Aston Martin Cognizant Esports Team secured victory in its competitive debut in the F1 Esports Pro Championship when Lucas Blakeley triumphed in the opening race of the 2021 season.

Lucas Blakeley, F1 Esports Pro Championship Event One

In the first of four events this campaign, Lucas and team-mate Daniele Haddad contested three races across the Bahrain International Circuit, Shanghai International Circuit, and Red Bull Ring.

Race One: Bahrain

Lucas started the season-opener from second on the grid, and was joined inside the top 10 by Daniele, who lined up in seventh.

Starting on the Soft tyre, Lucas secured a strong getaway from the front row to take the lead by overtaking polesitter Nicolas Longuet into Turn One.

Behind, Daniele was tipped into a spin in the first corner and fell to the rear of the field in 20th.

Maintaining a consistent advantage over second, Lucas boxed at the end of lap seven of 20 to fit the Medium tyres before re-joining in 16th place.

As various strategies filtered through, Lucas regained first place on lap 13 but fell to second on lap 17 when Longuet overtook using DRS.

Lucas remained within striking distance of the Alpine driver, and after exchanging positions twice on lap 19, overtook into Turn One on the final lap to score both his and Aston Martin’s maiden victory in the F1 Esports Pro Championship.

Meanwhile, Daniele utilised a one-stop strategy by swapping his race-starting Medium tyres for a set of Softs on lap 10 to climb the order to 11th.

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Race Two: China

In the second race of Event One, the Aston Martin duo started inside the top five, with Lucas lining up in third and Daniele fifth.

Wet conditions heightened the importance of strategy and, while Lucas held third off the line, Daniele slipped to eighth.

As weather conditions started to improve, Daniele became one of the first drivers to fit the Intermediate tyres by boxing at the end of lap five of 20, re-joining in 12th.

Lucas opted to extend his first stint by staying out one lap longer on the Wet tyres and pitted on lap six for a new set of Intermediates to re-join in seventh.

With a dry line emerging in the latter stages, Daniele opted to pit again on lap 15 to fit the Soft tyres while Lucas boxed one lap later for the slick compound.

On lap 17, Lucas overtook Race Two polesitter Bardia Boroumand into Turn 14 to take fourth position.

Despite closing the gap to the podium runners, the Scotsman ultimately took fourth. Daniele, meanwhile, secured seventh.

Race Three: Austria

In Race Three, Lucas and Daniele again progressed to Q3 and started sixth and 10th after facing changeable weather conditions in qualifying at the Red Bull Ring.

With rain forecast in the latter stages of the race, the duo started on the Medium tyre and, by overtaking Alvaro Carreton in Turn One, Lucas advanced to fifth.

Daniele’s race came to an early end when contact with Simon Weigang in Turn Five on the opening lap forced the Italian to retire.

After settling into a rhythm, Lucas maintained fifth in the opening stages before rain began to fall on lap nine.

On lap 10 of 25, Lucas became the first driver in the field to fit the Intermediate tyres to maintain a net fifth position.

Lucas overtook Cedric Thomé for fourth on lap 13 of 25, and was within touching distance of third-placed runner Boroumand for the remainder of the race.

With DRS getting disabled due to the wet conditions, Lucas was ultimately unable to overtake and secured fourth at the line.

Lucas Blakeley, Esports Driver, Aston Martin Cognizant Esports Team: "It feels fantastic to win the opening race of the 2021 F1 Esports Pro Championship. I have not had time to process it yet, but results like this highlight just how much work we all put in.

"We followed the first race with two fourth place finishes in China and Austria, and I think we can be happy with our performance overall in Event One.

"We were unlucky in a few areas, especially in qualifying at the Red Bull Ring, but this is a strong foundation that we can build upon in the coming weeks. We know where we can improve for Event Two, and we just need to keep moving forward to maintain this level of performance."

Daniele Haddad, Esports Driver, Aston Martin Cognizant Esports Team: "Event One was quite frustrating for me. It feels like a missed opportunity and, in hindsight, I believe I could have achieved more.

"We were unlucky to be hit on the first lap in Bahrain and Austria, but I think my pace in China was strong. By reacting to the changing weather conditions, we were able to score a good result. I know that I have the pace to compete at the front, and if we can cast off the bad luck from this week, I think we should have a good chance for Event Two."

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