With only one round left in the Formula E Accelerate esports championship, professional simracer Erhan Jajovski sits at the top of the drivers’ championship for Venturi.
Long-time F1 Esports driver Frederik Rasmussen and Formula E Race at Home Challenge champion Kevin Siggy are still in contention too.
Along with one of its drivers leading the way in the individual standings, Venturi is also leading the teams’ championship with a 16-point margin over BMW Andretti and 39 over Dragon Penske.
As there’s a share of a €100,000 prize pool on the line, there’s plenty at stake for both the drivers and teams.
Thursday night’s final round will be the second one to feature the real-life Formula E drivers though, following on from the Diriyah round of the Accelerate championship – in which, coincidentally, the current top three teams in the teams’ championship locked out the podium positions.
Jake Dennis for BMW Andretti was the pole-sitter and race winner, with Sergio Sette Camara seven seconds back in second place for Dragon.
Far behind the top two were the remaining 10 drivers as Venturi’s Norman Nato crossed the finish line in third and 34s down on Dennis at the end of a race that was only 12 minutes long.
This was because the contest had started with a pile-up at the first corner involving most of the field, with only Dennis and Sette Camara getting through cleanly.
In the remaining laps three of the 12 drivers retired, including double champion Jean-Eric Vergne, whose car was so damaged by the end that he was unable to keep it pointing in a straight line.
— ABB FIA Formula E World Championship (@FIAFormulaE) March 11, 2021
Crucially, each team’s better simracer from their real-world driver pairing will represent them in the grand final, meaning all four of the drivers who won virtual races in last year’s Race at Home Challenge will get to compete against one another in the upcoming 12-car race.
With each driver competing for points towards the teams’ championship there’s reason for them to do well, especially with how small the points gap is between many of the teams.
It is also worth mentioning that real-life success isn’t necessarily reflected on rFactor 2.
Of the two race winners in last month’s real-life Diriyah E-Prix, Sam Bird was second in qualifying for the virtual event but retired from the race, whereas de Vries was a distant fourth at the end, albeit having started from ninth on the grid.
Dennis’ BMW team-mate Maximilian Guenther was one of the fastest drivers in the Race at Home Challenge, winning two races and ending the championship fourth in the standings.
If his form from last year carries over to this the Accelerate series then he could put BMW Andretti back on top in the championship after a poor showing from its simracers, Siggy and Petar Brljak, in the previous round dropped it behind Venturi.
A win for Guenther would also mean that BMW Andretti would have won both of the real-life driver races.
That said, Guenther wasn’t the most consistent driver in the Race at Home Challenge as he failed to score points in a quarter of his appearances, so how well he adapts to the changes made to the Formula E cars in rFactor 2 will be pivotal to his success in Accelerate.
Of course the Formula E drivers are well-versed with energy management and the use of attack mode, but neither of those were considerations during the Race at Home events so it’s something they’ll have to familiarise themselves with in the game.
Defending Venturi’s points lead will be Edoardo Mortara – who had a quiet but respectable run in the Race at Home Challenge and steadily improved throughout the eight-race calendar.
A best result of fourth in the final round, along with two fifth places before that, means Mortara should be a strong enough driver in the virtual world to limit the points loss Venturi suffers if its rivals’ real-world racers are faster on the sim.
Another likely candidate for the victory is Stoffel Vandoorne, who was the Race at Home Challenge champion among Formula E drivers.
It is also worth noting that Vandoorne and Guenther raced against each other many times in the first season of The Race’s All-Star Series and were among the fastest real-world racers who took part, but every time they made the final it was Vandoorne who came out on top.
Mercedes is currently only fourth in the teams’ championship despite having been represented by Vegas eRace winner Bono Huis and the current F1 Esports champion Jarno Opmeer.
A 48-point deficit to Dragon Penske in third means it’s unlikely that Mercedes could move up a place in the championship, but Vandoorne could easily guarantee fourth in the standings for his squad.
In terms of race wins the most successful driver in the Race at Home challenge was Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein, claiming the top step of the podium three times.
Were it not for him being spun around at the start of the final race, and therefore failing to score any points, the German would likely have been crowned champion instead of Vandoorne.
A year later he could get his own back and help Porsche in the teams’ standings as it sits fifth in the order and on 35 points, but only 13 points separate fifth to 11th in the standings and even Mahindra in last is only 22 points behind Porsche.
Across both the real-life drivers’ race and the simracer event, the order in the bottom half of the teams’ championship could change hugely – especially given that double points are on offer in the grand final.
More optimistically though Porsche is only 20 points behind Mercedes, so a strong result for Wehrlein and an unexpectedly bad result for Vandoorne could be enough to put Porsche into fourth in the championship.
Another driver who’s proven himself on rFactor 2 in the past is Oliver Rowland, despite what was a shaky start to his Race at Home Challenge campaign.
In the first half of the championship his best result was sixth place before he went on to win the fifth round as well as the double-points final event.
Arguably though his best single day came when he finished second in the penultimate round of the Race at Home Challenge before immediately hopping over to The Race All-Star Series Triple Crown event in Monaco and winning the first Pro Cup race.
Rowland was later crowned the All-Star Pro Cup champion in the Triple Crown series and won both of the races in the Le Mans round as well.
On top of all of that Rowland also competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual and was a part of the team that finished fourth overall.
All of those accolades and experience on rFactor 2 should stand Rowland and Nissan e.dams in good stead, which is necessary as the team is 10th of the 12 teams in the points standings and a mere one point in front of Envision Virgin.
But at the top the trio of Mortara, Guenther and Nico Mueller will be scoring points to try to put their team, either Venturi, BMW Andretti or Dragon Penske respectively, in the best position possible to secure the teams’ championship.
For the remaining nine drivers anywhere from fourth to 12th in the teams’ standings is still up for grabs and so there’s a lot to contend for for all of the drivers on the grid.
After the real-world driver race, the 24 simracers will tackle the old layout of the Rome E-Prix circuit and only then will we know which team and driver will be crowned the inaugural Formula E Accelerate champions.