Leclerc overcomes Albon in Chinese Virtual GP
Despite the best efforts of Alex Albon, Charles Leclerc prevailed to make it two wins from two in the latest Virtual Grand Prix
The third race of the series boasted the most illustrious grid yet, with seven current F1 drivers taking part alongside big names from other sports such as Ian Poulter, Thibaut Courtois and Ciro Immobile.
Leclerc cruised in qualifying to take pole position, with George Russell, Nicholas Latifi and Antonio Giovinazzi also impressing but picking up five-place grid penalties.
Due to this, Leclerc started just ahead of Albon and comfortably stayed in front at the start. Further back, Carlos Sainz, the only running McLaren due to connection issues for Lando Norris, lost control and spun.
Leclerc and Albon quickly began to pull away, with the Red Bull man diving into the pits after five laps to try and pull off the undercut. The strategy worked as the Ferrari driver came out one place behind him after pitting himself.
The two then made their way through the field and, despite the best efforts of team-mate Courtois, Albon couldn’t hold onto his lead. They swapped positions various times on Lap 11 with the Monegasque coming out on top to take P2 behind Sainz, who had yet to pit.
Not everyday you see a goalkeeper with an assist 😉The ultimate team player @thibautcourtois 🤣👏 #VirtualGP pic.twitter.com/5MPcqfiVIZ
— Aston Martin Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) April 19, 2020
By the halfway point, Sainz had pitted, giving Leclerc the lead, with Albon less than a second behind. Behind them, Stoffel Vandoorne and Guanyu Zhou did battle for the final podium spot, with the latter coming out on top.
Leclerc then began to extend his lead over Albon while Giovinazzi, Latifi and Sainz did battle for the final points-scoring positions, with Russell running ahead of them in P5.
With six laps left, Vandoorne reclaimed P3 but quickly undid all that work by picking up a three-second time penalty. Behind him, Giovinazzi lost connection and Sainz passed Latifi, pushing the Spaniard up to P9.
Leclerc continued to pull away from Albon and, by the time he crossed the line, had a lead of just under three seconds. The Thai driver took P2 comfortably while Zhou, the winner of the first Virtual GP of the season, completed the podium.
He won in Melbourne… he wins in Shanghai! 👑@Charles_Leclerc makes it back-to-back #VirtualGP wins!#F1Esports #RaceAtHome pic.twitter.com/MPzMnaATKO
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 19, 2020
Russell also benefitted from Vandoorne’s penalty to finish in P4, while Latifi made a last-lap move on Sainz to take back P9, leaving the Mclaren man in the final points-scoring position.
Leclerc’s win was his second consecutive triumph in the series and his second victory of the weekend following his Veloce win. He’s quickly proving himself to be the best Esports racer F1 has to offer.
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