Felix Rosenqvist celebrated the start of 2017 by pocketing arguably the most unique podium of his career, coming home a surprise second as he beat all of his Formula E rivals and a host of eSports specialists to win 100,000 dollars in the biggest simulator race in history in Las Vegas.
With an aggregate prize pool of USD 1 million, the Visa Vegas eRace – staged on Saturday afternoon local time at the Venetian Hotel in central Las Vegas (USA) – saw a ground-breaking new concept being launched for the very first time as real-life racing drivers went head to head with the very best of simulator competition.
The race featured all 20 drivers from the all-electric FIA Formula E Championship going up against ten of the fastest simulator racers of the world (selected through a rigorous qualifying procedure) on a specially designed, virtual track laid out around the famous landmarks of the Las Vegas Strip.
Despite a clear lack of sim racing experience, Rosenqvist surprisingly emerged as one of the leading contenders, taking a shock second on the grid as the only real-world racer to make the top ten cut in qualifying and proceed straight into the main, 20-man finale.
Once there, the 25-year-old Mahindra Racing Swede continued to mix it with the gaming specialists, running a close second to eventual winner Bono Huis (NED) throughout the 20-lap race. Rosenqvist was followed home by four other simulator stars in positions three through to six, with the second-best Formula E racer being Argentina’s triple World Touring Car champion José María López in seventh.
Rosenqvist’s second place netted him 100,000 dollars from a whopping USD 1 million prize pool, the largest award in eRacing history.
“I have to say I’m surprised to come away from Vegas with P2 in this race, but it’s a great feeling and I’m very pleased,” says Felix Rosenqvist. “Sure, I’ve got my own little set-up back home like most drivers do, but I really only play every now and then and I wasn’t expecting to mix it that well with the sim guys. It was a strange experience sitting in front of a lot of people inside a hotel, but luckily it worked out fine for me and I was up the front in every session. I started from the front row in the finale and had a very clean race with a long first stint, without any traffic and I was able to cruise to the podium in second place. I hope I can do more races like this in the future, but now, let’s enjoy the moment and celebrate this a little!”
Felix Rosenqvist will return to real-world racing on February 18, as the Formula E campaign recommences in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Rosenqvist currently sits fourth in the FIA Formula E Championship standings, having achieved one fastest lap, one pole position and one podium finish from his first two starts in the series.
RESULTS (top ten)
Visa Vegas eRace
Las Vegas, USA
1: Bono Huis (NED), 20 laps – SIM
2: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE) – FORMULA E
3: Olli Pahkala (FIN) – SIM
4: Enzo Bonito (ITA) – SIM
5: Aleksi Uusi-Jaakkola (FIN) – SIM
6: Greger Huttu (FIN) – SIM
7: José María López (ARG) – FORMULA E
8: Sam Bird (GBR) – FORMULA E
9: Daniel Abt (GER) – FORMULA E
10: Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) – FORMULA E