Mercedes drivers sweep second leg of 2018 F1 eSports

Second leg of the New Balance F1 Esports Series held at London’s Gfinity Arena on October 31 2018.
© / F1

Mercedes eSports drivers Brendon Leigh and Daniel Bereznay puled off a clean sweep of all three races of the New Balance F1 eSports Series held on Wednesday night at London’s Gfinity Arena.

Reigning champion Leigh claimed victory in the virtual races held on simulations of the Circuit Paul Ricard and Silverstone, while Bereznay took the honours in the final race of the day which took place on the Spa-Francorchamps track.

Leigh's victory in the first round had been threatened by a five second post-race penalty for pushing Toro Rosso's Frederik Rasmussen wide at the turn 11 hairpin on the penultimate lap.

However the penalty was controversially reversed on appeal and Leigh's win was restored. Rasmussen was classified third behind his Toro Rosso team mate Patrik Holzmann.

“It should have been a penalty for sure," Rasmussen complained afterwards. "I’m not a fan of dirty driving."

Leigh admitted to Reuters that he wasn't happy with his own performance this week. "The incident with Freddy wasn’t correct and was highly avoidable, so I was a bit upset about that."

There was a further clash between the pair when the action moved to Silverstone. Rasmussen undercut Leigh for the lead during the pit stops but Leigh got back around the Dane at Stowe. The pair made contact but this time it was Rasmussen who admitted he had turned in too early.

Sauber’s Salih Saltunc took third place but was subsequently handed a three-place penalty for cutting a corner, which prompted Hype Energy Force India's Marcel Kiefer onto the podium.

Rasmussen was in contention in the final race of the evening, but this time his competition was Leigh's Hungarian team mate. Bereznay lost the lead on the opening lap in the run down to the Kemmel Straight, but grabbed it back again in the same spot two laps later.

After that he disappeared into the distance and won by over five seconds from Red Bull's Joni Tormala. A corner-cutting penalty for Force India's Fabrizio Donoso Delgado handed Rasmussen third place with Leigh only fifth after crossing the line in a dead heat with Saltunc.

Together with his wins at Australia and China earlier in October, the results give 19-year-old Leigh a commanding 43 point lead in the championship with one more leg - consisting of four races - remaining. Double points are on offer in the finale on the simulated Abu Dhabi track.

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports driver line-up for 2018/9

Mercedes meanwhile has 208 points in the virtual team championship compared to 137 for their closest rivals Toro Rosso. The final takes place on November 16-17 with a total prize fund of $200,000 to be shared out.

Nine of the current Formula 1 teams have entered virtual squads in this year's competition. The only hold-out is Ferrari.

Taking place just days after Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton clinched the F1 world championship, the event was well supported by familiar faces from the Grand Prix paddock.

As well as McLaren's Lando Norris, Red Bull boss Christian Horner was also on hand to see what all the excitement was about.

“What I’ve seen of the racing has been great," he said. "It’s obviously a lot cheaper when the drivers crash and the engines don’t tend to break down!

“It’s something the next generation of Formula 1 drivers are getting into," he continued. "I don’t think it will be long before we see a Formula 1 grid taking part in this as well."

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