The final three rounds of the F1 esports world championship take place across Wednesday and Thursday as Imola, Mexico and Brazil play host to the climax of the season.
In what has been an enthralling campaign so far (it must be something about F1 in 2021,) we’re set up for a three-way title fight with eight points separating the protagonists.
Defending champion Jarno Opmeer leads the way on 140 points, with Lucas Blakeley in second on 135 points and Frede Rasmussen in third on 132 points.
What’s the mood among some of the key drivers ahead of the battle, though? Give Me Sport sat in with Opmeer, Blakeley and Marcel Kiefer (Rasmussen’s teammate) and their pre-event press conference to find out:
“There’s definitely less pressure on me than last year. It’s going to be a lot of pressure on the top three so it’s going to be a battle but it’s going to be really exciting.
“Last year I felt like there was a three-way fight as well, I don’t think it makes any difference. You just need to win as many races as possible and then it doesn’t matter about the others.
“[Preparation] has been a lot smoother than previous events. I’m definitely feeling better than in previous rounds for qualifying and that will help me in the last three races.
“No, not at all [am I concerned about past results in Brazil.] I like the track, just pace was lacking in the last few years. I don’t think what happened before will have any impact at all this time. I’m feeling comfortable around all three tracks and probably the most confident I’ve ever been going into it.
“It’s so close you really don’t know what is going to happen. It’s me Lucas and Frede that are all favourites to win. I’ve already won it so I’ll try to win it again but really I’ll just enjoy the last three races of the season.”
“It’s a new experience for me. I’ve not been in this position before but it’s a privilege so I’m grateful for that and with the nerves, I thought they would be worst, to be honest! I’ve just been trying to work on the details and to be prepared as possible.
“I’ve always had the self-belief to do things well when it comes to racing. I wasn’t relying on it happening as such, I take it race by race and focus on optimising my own performances. I really want to win the championship but no matter how it pans out I’m going to be really proud with how this season has developed.
“It’s my job in each of the races that I get as many points as I can, whether I’m first or third – there are only eight points between us. Even 26 points isn’t much in esports given how unpredictable it is. I take no extra comfort from being second, it’s the same goal I’m hunting for regardless of whether I’m first, second or third. It’s my job to do a better job than the other two!
“Every time I really put my mind to something, I try and envisage and speak it into existence. I did that for Bahrain and won. All the times I’ve really believed something can happen it’s come to fruition. It’s no secret I really want to win the championship and I truly believe I’ve got what it takes to win it.”
“In the race, I can always give him the strategic advantage and I can try and fend off some drivers like we saw with Checo [Perez] in Abu Dhabi!
“We’ll just keep focusing on the team and we’ll see what happens with Frede’s Drivers’ championship.
“We’re fully focused on the Team and what happens in the Drivers’ happens in the Drivers’.
“I think Lucas has made a great step up. You’ve got to give him credit for that and Lucas is performing super well, especially in qualifying, which only Frede and I managed last year.
“Lucas is really impressive and I think that will come down to the final race between the three.
“Jarno is probably the smartest guy on the grid in terms of strategy and shows that it’s not all about qualifying.
“Frede is the most talented driver in F1 esports and sim racing, especially over one lap his pace is incredible, so I’m backing him to take the title!”