BOSH! That was the word that George Russell exclaimed as he took the chequered flag. The sound effect reflects the impact he has had on the Virtual Grand Prix series since his first race, never failing to finish outside the top four. Now, for the first time, he takes the top spot, fending off Charles Leclerc in Barcelona.
Russell’s qualifying was one of success – pole position. But the start to the race itself could not have gone much worse. The Briton slipped back to a lowest ebb of sixth, as Esteban Gutierrez got a monster start and surged into the lead. He was then passed by Leclerc, Alex Albon, team mate Nicholas Latifi, and momentarily, FDA Hublot Esports racer Antonio Fuoco.
Russell held his nerve to maintain P5, and then set about hunting down those ahead of him. By Lap 20, he was within striking distance of Leclerc, and on Lap 26, he made his move for P1. It was clear that Russell was pushing, and he was eventually hit with a three-second penalty for track limit infringements, appearing to scupper his chances of the win.
The duo would swap positions several times over the final few laps, but the pivotal moment came at the end of the penultimate lap, with Leclerc, trill trying to pass Russell, also got his with a time penalty, effectively cancelling out both.
That left Russell to cross the line ahead of Leclerc, and Gutierrez who got his first podium in the series. Then followed Albon, who ran an alternate two-stop strategy, and Latifi in fifth. Anthony Davidson finished sixth for Meredes, ahead of Pietro Fittipaldi
In the battle of the footballers, it was Thibaut Courtois who came out on top in P12, with Sergio Aguero in 14th.
ZHOU RIDES AGAIN
Winner in Bahrain. Winner in Barcelona. Guanyu Zhou absolutely romped to victory in the first F2 Virtual race. However he did incur a penalty after making accidental contact with Arthur Leclerc. The pair’s excellent battle on Lap 6 ended in tears when Zhou tried to sneak past at Turn 10, but just ended up spinning Leclerc around.
He still held on to take the win, ahead of F3 racer Lirim Zendeli in second, and Oli Rowland in third.
The five-lap sprint race afterwards also provided plenty of action, with Norman Nato taking the win after a daring final-lap lunge on Loius Deletraz, who ended up second, with Jack Aitken completing the podium. Full race replays available here!
RASMUSSEN BACK ON TOP
The F1 Esports Pro Exhibition race saw a continuation of a trend for one team. After sitting out Brazil, Frede Rasmussen returned to his Red Bull seat and claimed a hard-fought win, after a race-long battle with the Alfa Romeos of Bari Broumand and Dani Bereznay.
Rasmussen pitted early to give himself the undercut, and emerged just ahead of both drivers to maintain the lead, and he held on to cross the finish line in P1. Check out the race stream replay here.
The next Virtual Grand Prix will take place on Sunday May 24, originally penned to host the 2020 Monaco Grand Prix. As ever, keep your eyes on social media for exciting driver announcements as we get them!
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