Abu Dhabi – Brendon Leigh is the first-ever Formula 1 Esports Series World Champion. The British edriver won the Series final event, held Saturday 25th November in the F1 paddock of the 2017 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Across the three races – Montreal, Spa Francorchamps and Yas Marina – Leigh collected a total of 74 points, six more than the 2nd, Chile’s Fabrizio Donoso Delgado, with German Sven Zurner 3rd with 64 points.
The 18-year-old kitchen manager from Reading in the UK, was one of four drivers who started Race 3 at Yas Marina Circuit knowing that a win would guarantee them the title. Donoso Delgado had one foot on the top step of the podium until the final lap, when Leigh swept past him to snatch away the race win and the championship.
Leigh led the standings overnight after his Montreal victory on Friday in Race 1, but a poor performance in qualifying saw him starting in 15th place for Race 2 earlier on Saturday. He recovered admirably at Spa-Francorchamps to finish in 8th place. The race was won impressively by Çem Bölükbasi.
Starting 2nd for Race 3 at Yas Marina Circuit, Leigh was quick off the start line, passing pole-sitter Donoso Delgado to take the lead just after lights out. Zurner joined the pair in a topsy-turvy battle for the lead, but just as it seemed that Donoso would prevail, Leigh’s dramatic last-gasp move shot him to the front and towards a place in the record books as our inaugural champion. Donoso Delgado (2nd place) and Zurner (3rd place) were all smiles as they joined him on the podium.
Brendon Leigh, Esports Series World Champion, said:
“I feel ecstatic. It’s one thing to get to the semifinals. Another to get to the finals. Another again is to win and beat 19 drivers. It’s unreal to have the luck and also the mindset to be able to keep calm in this situation. Winning here means a huge amount to me. I am the first one to do it. That is special. I am not sure how to celebrate. I don’t drink or anything: I think I might just go to bed.”
After the races, the top three drivers were presented with their trophies by former F1 driver, David Coulthard. On Sunday 26th November at 1.45 pm, they had a further ceremony when they were feted by Formula 1 Chairman and CEO Chase Carey during an official prize giving ceremony which took take place on the podium of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
A special prize went to edriver Denmark’s Mads Soerensen, who set the fastest lap in Race 3. He presented the DHL Fastest Lap Award to Lewis Hamilton, his favorite Formula 1 driver.
The event attracted not only the attention of the egame fans, who watched it online through Facebook and Twitch and on TV thanks to the many broadcasters which showed it live. The two final races were also followed keenly by the F1 family here in Abu Dhabi, with many engineers, mechanics and guests who watched on the screens disseminated around the paddock. Among them, Fernando Alonso, who has recently presented his own esports teams and had in Çem Bölükbasi one his drivers. Çem was one of the great protagonists of the Finals, with his victory in Race 2, held on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
Sean Bratches, Commercial Director Formula 1 said:
“We are delighted to be holding the Esport Series Final here in Abu Dhabi. The finalists have been whittled down from the 60,000 original participants. After the London semifinals, we are now down to the 20 very best edrivers on the planet, here in the specially designed garage in the F1 paddock. The attraction to a broad and committed younger generation of F1 and Esport fans is something that we are proud to support and nurture, and we look forward to establishing a season long series in 2018.”
This is the final classification of the 2017 Esports Series:
Brendon Leigh 74 points
Fabrizio Donoso Delgado 68
Sven Zurner 64
Patrik Holzmann 45
Çem Bölükbasi 35
Frederik Rasmussen 35
Allert Vanderwal 33
Gianfranco Giglioli 33
Harrison Jacks 24
Joni Tormala 16
Salih Saltunc 12
Maximilian Benecke 11
Patryk Krutyi 9
Mads Soerensen 8
Alberto Foltran 8
Cedric Thome 7
Igor Fraga 6
Tiziano Brioni 2
Sonuc Saltunc 2