The first race among the elite brought Jan Haladej 12th place

Tomáš Enge SIM Racing driver Jan Haladej started the F1 Esports Series Challengers with a solid 12th place. The opening race in Bahrain brought a dramatic battle for the win until the last lap.

Jan Haladej entered the race in a Ferrari, but not as a favourite. This was confirmed in qualifying, where he finished among the three drivers who did not advance from the first part of the qualification. On the starting grid, this meant a position of 17th. “I am very happy to be able to compete with such fast drivers. Bahrain is not my strongest track so I don’t expect much from the race. At least I won’t be under so much pressure. Anyway, my goal is top ten. We’ll see what the race brings,” he said before the start.

The opening race added to the young rider’s confidence, with points not far away.

Qualifying was dominated by Spain’s Ruben Pedreňo in the Red Bull, who beat England’s Alfie Butcher in the Alfa Romeo by less than five hundredths of a second. Butcher managed the starting manoeuvre better and took the lead. Pedreno settled in behind him and this order stabilised until the pit stops. Butcher was the first of the pair to pit, and when Pedreňo did the same a little later, they had a fierce battle just after the Spaniard exited the pits. Butcher narrowly held on to the lead, but his older tyres were not in the same condition as Pedreño’s at the end. He took advantage of the DRS zone on the home straight to take the lead. But by then, British driver Dylan Warren was within striking distance, having put soft tyres on his Ferrari. The vast majority of the starting field changed to a medium compound. Warren gradually worked his way to the front, but was unable to close the gap to his pursuers. That cost him the win, because at the very end the soft compound didn’t hold and Pedreno took back 1st place. Warren, who started from 10th position, held on to 2nd place to become the driver of the day.

He had a great battle with Alpino and Mercedes at the end.

Jan Haladej’s starting manoeuvre was successful and after an initial push he settled into 15th place. He stayed there until the pit stops. He pushed his own to the back as far as possible, which proved to be a good strategy. He earned 2 positions and when Lewis Will retired at the end, it made for a solid 12th place finish. He narrowly missed his dream top ten by 1.5 seconds, but he certainly has nothing to be ashamed of. Next time he’ll definitely be looking for points.

Results: 1. Ruben Pedreňo (E/Red Bull), 2. Dylan Warren (GB/Ferrari), 3. Alfie Butcher (GB/Alfa Romeo), 4. Tamás Gál (H/Williams), 5. Can Akinci (TR/Haas), 6. Ulas Ozylidirim (TR/AlphaTauri),… 12. Jan Haladej (CZ/Ferrari).