F1 eSports 2018: First qualifiers for Pro Draft line-up set

A pair of Turkish-Cypriot brothers are among the qualifiers from the first week of Formula 1's eSports Championship qualifying event, who will progress to the Pro Draft

F1 eSports 2018: First qualifiers for Pro Draft line-up set

The championship underwent a radical overhaul for its second season, nine of the 10 F1 teams are participating, and only Ferrari electing not to compete. The teams will choose drivers from the Pro Draft to represent them in the finals.

30 drivers across Codemasters' 'F1 2017's three platforms - PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC - advanced to live-streamed qualifying finals after setting the fastest times in the first of four qualifying challenges.

Salih Saltunc who is studying Aerospace Engineering with the aim of becoming an aerodynamicist, not only dominated the 14-lap Xbox race to win by 8.542 seconds but also ensured his younger sibling Sonuc joined him in the next stage of the competition.

The top three qualified from each race, Sonuc was running in third after the opening lap, but after advice from his brother, he overtook fellow 2017 eSports finalist Maximilian Benecke for second place.

"I was in the party chat with my brother [Salih] he told me, 'Benecke is feeling the pressure, Sonuc he's venerable go for it bro' - so I went for a move into Turn 6 for P2 and made it stick," younger brother Sonuc said.

Benecke later disconnected from the race, meaning Jack Kill took the final spot in the top three, after perfecting the undercut to move from eighth on the grid to third.

Isaac Price, a member of Fernando Alonso's sim racing team who qualified on both the PC and the Xbox, was in the fight for a top three slot before he outbraked himself and made controversial contact with Veloce eSports team member James Doherty.

Patrick Holzmann, who finished fourth in the inaugural F1 eSports Championship, was victorious in the PC event, beating Alonso's driver Joni Tormala, who was eliminated from the semi-finals of the DiRT eSports World Championships on Sunday.

Dani Bereznay, also a Veloce driver, took the final qualifying spot on the PC, edging out Formula E outfit Techeetah's simulator driver and 2018 eRoC winner Enzo Bonito by less than three tenths. Vegas eRace winner Bono Huis completed the top five.

Alonso's proteges dominated the PS4 race, with Cem Bolukbasi triumphing in a tight battle with 18-year-old Formula Ford driver Sebastian Job.

Job attempted the undercut on his G2 team-mate but Bolukbasi held the inside when he exited the pits and took the chequered flag to win by 2.624s.

The nine qualifiers will join reigning F1 eSports champion Brendon Leigh as well as runners-up Fabrizio Donoso and Sven Zurner in the Pro Draft, with three more qualifiers scheduled to decide who will fill the remaining places.

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Author Josh Suttill
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