Round 10: Japan (19 laps)
Manuel Biancolilla: Pos. 8th – Joni Törmälä: Pos. 10th
Mixed fortunes in qualifying for Scuderia AlphaTauri Esports at Suzuka, with Biancolilla fifth and Törmälä 13th. The Finnish sim racer made a small mistake in Q2 which cost him dear in a particularly tight midfield. The race start was not the best, but despite that, both drivers toughed it out well in the frantic first lap. Our drivers were on different strategies: Biancolilla stopped on lap 6 to fit the Medium tyres while Törmälä was able to extend his stint for a couple of laps before fitting the Soft tyres to try and be more aggressive in the closing stages. The race was won by Frederik Rasmussen for Red Bull Racing Esports, ahead of Nicolas Longuet (Renault) and Daniele Haddad (Racing Point.) Both our drivers finished in the points, with Manuel Biancolilla eighth and Joni Törmälä tenth.
Round 11: Mexico (25 laps)
Joni Törmälä: Pos. 17th – Manuel Biancolilla: Pos. 18th
At the Hermanos Rodriguez circuit, Joni Törmälä qualified P9 and Manuel Biancolilla was P11. It looked as though the pace was there for another double points finish, but a spin for Ferrari’s David Tonizza at the first corner on the opening lap caused mayhem and unfortunately, our two drivers were blameless victims. Both of them sustained damage in the incident and that was their race pretty much done. At the end of the 25 laps, Jarno Opmeer (Alfa Romeo) took the win ahead of Brendon Leigh (Mercedes) and Frederik Rasmussen (Red Bull Racing). Joni Törmälä and Manuel Biancolilla finished 17th and 18th respectively.
Round 12: Brazil (20 laps)
Manuel Biancolilla: Pos. 17th – Joni Törmälä: Pos. 20th
In qualifying, Joni got to Q3 but a small mistake on his final run meant he had to settle for P8. Unfortunately, Manuel was blocked a couple of times on his flying laps and went no further than Q1, starting from P19. Our Finnish sim racer looked to have a great pace for the race, but yet again, a coming together after the start at turn 1, put an end to his hopes of concluding the season in the points. Our guys therefore ended up outside the top ten in the final race of the year, but still kept seventh spot in the teams classification behind McLaren Shadow and ahead of Williams Esports. The race was won by Nicolas Longuet (Renault) who had a great fight in the closing stages with Marcel Kiefer (second for Red Bull Racing) and Daniel Bereznay, (third for Alfa Romeo).
Joni Törmälä (P10 – 34 Points):
“Qualifying was going pretty well but then in the final Q2 run, I made a small mistake on Degner 2 and with the field being so close of course, that put me back to thirteenth place and no Q3 for me. Then in the race, I picked a really aggressive strategy to hopefully climb up into the points. It worked in the end. I got P10. It was the maximum I could get with that qualifying so I was pleased with that result but overall, some potential wasted.”
“Mexico is a really hard track. Qualifying was going really well. I think I was fourth in Q1 and then first in Q2, which I was surprised about to be honest, because it’s not my strongest track at all. Then in Q3, track limits were again an issue, with both my laps cancelled and I had to start P9. Then in the race I got a really good start. I kept my position until turn 1. Then ahead, Tonizza (Ferrari) spun and while trying to avoid his car, someone hit my rear and pushed me into him. My wing was gone, the race was kind of over but hey, I got the fastest lap in the end so that’s something to take from it but it’s not what I wanted.”
“Qualifying was okay as I got into Q3 and was in with a chance of pole or the top three, but I messed up my run on fresh tyres, so had to settle for P8. It was still in the mix and I could have scored some good points but in Turn 1, I got brake checked quite badly and lost my front wing and after that it was just a case of driving around. I pitted again to try and get the fastest lap, which I managed in the end. So I won the DHL Fastest Lap Award for the year, which is not really the trophy you want to win, but it’s still something. As for the season overall, it started so well, but towards the end it got worse. But the potential is there and we keep moving forward.”
Manuel Biancolilla (P16 – 12 Points):
“I qualified really well in Japan, fifth fastest, which was one of my best performances of the season. However, the start was not quite as good: I clipped the grass and lost a few places and that mistake meant I could only finish eighth.”
“As for Mexico, there’s not much to say. It’s a pretty difficult track, I started 11th and could have done better. Unfortunately, at the first corner, I couldn’t avoid the carnage and broke the wing. After that, my race was definitely compromised.”
“Unfortunately, my Brazil qualifying was ruined when I was blocked on two consecutive runs and so there wasn’t much I could do starting from the back. Overall, the season didn’t go the way I’d have wanted. Unfortunately, last year I was unable to get enough experience in this championship and that cost me this year, even though I was able to take part in all the races. Nevertheless, thanks to all the work this season, I am confident I can do better next year. Of course, none of this would have been possible without Scuderia AlphaTauri Esports, who believed in me and ensured I raced in every round. Furthermore, establishing a good relationship with Joni and everyone behind the scenes of this Esports programme, meant I was able to progress and improve. Thank you to all of you!”