Bari Boroumand On His F1 Dream
Speed by name, speed by nature. Bardia Boroumandgohar, better known as Bari Boroumand or simply ‘SpeedBari’, is Iran’s fastest racer, both physically, and on-track.
A seven-time national karting champion in his home nation, the McLaren Shadow star has surpassed every expectation of him in 2021, and we still have half the season remaining! We caught up with him ahead of the third event of the 2021 F1 Esports Series Pro Championship, presented by Aramco.
With one race under his belt for Mercedes in 2020, Boroumand isn’t technically a rookie in F1 Esports. That one race in China saw him qualify a lowly P16, and though he was in a points-paying position until the final lap, he wound up P11.
Flash forward to 2021, and he has reinvented himself, sticking it on POLE in China, with a hatful of points, and a podium to his name. How has he managed such a reversal of fortune?
“Well, I can’t say that I have a secret or anything, it’s just practice, and keeping mentally fresh and positive. I’m really happy with McLaren this year, it’s been a great journey for me with them – but I’m still looking forward to getting better results in the next event.
“I think I could have gotten even more points from the first two events in terms of qualifying, race pace, strategy, luck and everything else. I have a little bit more experience, but I can’t say there’s a huge difference compared to last year, I’m just feeling really comfortable this year.”
McLaren and Mercedes are two of the biggest names in motorsport. Bono Huis made an opposite switch at the end of 2019, trading McLaren Shadow for Mercedes. So what is it like to jump in the opposite direction?
“The team have really helped me to get everything right, and I mean everything! I moved from Iran to Turkey this year, and I appreciate everything they did for me in getting set up. When you see that the team is supporting you in every way and you’re feeling really happy with them, it will affect on your driving.”
ON TO EVENT THREE
If you were to grade Bari Boroumand’s first half of the season, it would have to be an A. Consistent, fast, points in every round, and even on the podium. What he needs to do to take it to that A+ is obvious – score the elusive first victory. He set his sights firmly on the next trio of races to do just that.
“I’m really looking forward to get my first win, because I feel in terms of qualifying pace we are already there. In terms of race pace, with a little bit more experience I think I can get there so my minimum goal in the next event is to get a win… maybe two wins?! The more wins, the happier I will be! I just want to be able to say I did everything I could.
“I really like all three tracks that are coming up. My favourite of the three, just a little bit more than the others, is Zandvoort. But COTA is such a great track, and Portimao I’m really looking forward to racing there for the first time.”
WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER
The packed 2021 schedule means that the first two events of the 2021 Pro Championship were only two weeks apart. As Lucas Blakeley recently attested to, the longer gap this time is most welcome. Everyone has their own approach and upper limit of hours, including Boroumand.
“For the first event, I practiced about five hours per day on average, but for Event 2 I made a mistake. I practiced 8-9 hours per day which was way too much for me. Mentally in the last 2-3 days I was so tired, and I think it was one of the reasons I wasn’t happy with my Event 2 results.
“I learned from it, so for Event 3 I’ll be practicing 5-6 hours per day, and in the days up to the next event I’ll be doing a bit less to keep myself fresh. It’s not all about just practicing more – it’s about being ready. Maybe doing more works for others, but it’s not the best idea for me to practice 9-10 hours a day. A 4-6 hour day really works well for me. So with this, a bit more experience, and what I learned from the first two events I will be much stronger.”
So you’ve been warned – a fresher, stronger Bari Boroumand is coming for the third event. He’s fifth in the drivers’ standings, and has helped McLaren Shadow up to P5 in the teams’ standings with 100% of their points. With an 85-point gap to Jarno Opmeer, but 156 still to play for… who is the target?
“The drivers’ championship is still on. I think I have the potential still to fight back. I had a poor Event 2, but we have everything we need to fight back. It still feels like my first year, because I didn’t experience much last year, and it’s such a talented grid. Everyone around us is our rival, and I really enjoy driving against them.”
WELCOME TO THE NEW AGE
For seven years, Mercedes have won the F1 Constructors’ championship. People refer to as ‘dominance’. Imagine then, that you’re one of Boroumand’s rivals, karting in Iran. For seven years, he was the national champion, and his motorsport journey looked set to blossom from there.
“I’ve been racing since I was six, I loved racing since I was a kid. I went to football, basketball, and everything else, but I chose motorsport because I know I’m made for this.
“In Iran, I was unbeaten! When I was 14, we qualified for a karting World Final, where the 72 best drivers in the world go. We had two seats, one in the junior class, for drivers up until age 17, and one in the senior category, where you can race from 14-99. We had two seats, and the junior guy drove in that class because he was too young, and I had to race in senior as a 14-year-old. I qualified 16th out of 72, but I got unlucky in the heat with a bumper penalty and it cost me the final.”
While the finals didn’t quite go as planned, it was just the beginning of Boroumand’s appearances on a global stage.
“You have to have sponsors to reach the top level in formula racing, so when I couldn’t move up there, I decided to move to F1 Esports, as I thought ‘maybe I can achieve my dreams there’. I started doing it because of that, so my plan is to be Esports champion and then make it all the way to be a Formula 1 driver. This is my dream, I would love to be the first person to do that.”
The list of Esports drivers who have crossed paths with racing on-track is ever-growing. So does speed in one guarantee success in the other?
“In terms of race-craft, when drivers from real life come to Esports they have a little bit of an advantage – they know how to battle and in terms of learning the racing line, the technique of the driving, that really helps them as well. You can definitely carry skills over.”
It’s good to dream. Watch this space then, as Bari Boroumand looks to make it to the top on-track while he continues to ascend the ranks of F1 Esports! Can he take that first win in Event 3? Tune in from 19:30 UTC on Wednesday November 24 to find out!