Renault Vitality’s Nicolas Longuet wrapped up a strong 2020 F1 Esports Pro Series with another pole position and win to secure third place in the teams’ championship.
Renault Vitality’s squad of Nicolas and team-mates Fabrizio Donoso and Casper Jansen headed to the final triple-header of the year at the demanding Suzuka, Mexico City and Interlagos circuits with a narrow advantage in third position, but the final classifications went right down to the wire.
Nicolas started strongly in Suzuka, taking second on the grid. Fabrizio in the second car however had it all to do as he started from the rear of the grid following a mistake in Q1. Both drivers were determined for more in the race, with Nicolas taking the lead at the start. He held position until the penultimate lap when a charging Frederik Rasmussen challenged and took the win. Fabrizio made steady progress through the field to cross the line in thirteenth, but a three-second penalty following contact with an opponent demoted him to sixteenth.
Next on the bill was Mexico, making a first appearance in the F1 Esports Pro Series. Confidence was high in the team, however qualifying did not deliver expected results. Nicolas started twelfth on the grid, ahead of Casper Jansen – making his first race start of the season – in P17. A first-lap accident at the front of the field caused chaos but Nicolas and Casper emerged unscathed in P11 and 12, Casper ahead of Nicolas. The rest of the race was not so lucky as Nicolas was punted into a spin by an opponent during an overtake and crossed the line in thirteenth. Casper was enjoying a strong race in seventh thanks to an innovative strategy, but a technical failure heartbreakingly caused his retirement from the race.
The team headed into the final round in third, with everything to play for. Nicolas showed his mettle with a stunning pole position at Interlagos while the returning Fabrizio Denoso qualified in P13. Following a thrilling race-long battle with Marcel Kiefer, Nicolas secured the second win of the season for the team, securing fourth place in the drivers’ championship. Fabrizio crossed the line in P17 after being caught in a first corner incident.
Renault Vitality achieved its objective to finish third in the teams’ championship with a total of 136 points.
Nicolas Longuet: "Finally we can say we have got to the end and we got third in the teams’ championship! This event was relatively good for me, finishing second in Japan and taking the win in Brazil, which secured our third place and my fourth in the drivers’ championship in my first full year in the Pro Series. We can be proud of this achievement considering we had some bad luck on Fabrizio’s side with technical issues in multiple sessions. A lot of work was put in behind the scenes, such as strategy and set-up work by Richard and Pierre. It sometimes goes unrecognized, but they were some of the main reasons I did so well. Now it is time for us to rest a bit and recharge the batteries for next year as it’s only going to get harder and harder. Merry Christmas everyone and Happy New Year!"
Fabrizio Donoso: "On a personal side I can only be disappointed about the performance in qualifying and that is something I need to change for next year. Overall however as a team we worked well and Nico always performed when it mattered. Our strategies were always on point and I just need to make my life easier by getting Q3 consistently. Many thanks to everyone involved behind the scenes and to Richard for always pushing us a bit more. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!"
Casper Jansen: "Finally in the last event I got a chance to race in the Pro Series after months of hard work. I wasn’t happy about my qualifying performance, as I felt it could have been so much better, but I was really happy about the race until something out of my control denied some extra points for the team. We still accomplished our target that we set at the start of the season, P3, which is due in large part to Nico’s consistent performances throughout the season, but also to the hard work Fabrizio put in to make all this possible."
Richard Arnaud (coach): "This concludes our season on a high! I am really happy about our performance; third has always been my objective. Starting from a blank sheet of paper this year was a challenge, especially with that grid, but I am happy to continue Renault Vitality’s progress in the field, with our first podiums. Nicolas, Fabrizio, Casper and all the people behind the scenes performed outstandingly this season, despite the current situation in the world, to make the project work. We’ve had our ups and down, but we have always come through every challenge together. Now it is time to take some deserved holidays for everyone, and hopefully to come back stronger for more F1 Esports in 2021."