Leclerc cruises to victory in Virtual GP debut

Finley Crebolder

Charles Leclerc defeats Nicholas Latifi in Esports Versus event.

Six Formula 1 drivers took part in the sport’s latest official Virtual Grand Prix, and it was Charles Leclerc who came out on top. 

The second race in the series boasted considerably more big names from the world of Formula 1. Lando Norris and Nicholas Latifi returned but were this time joined by Leclerc, Alex Albon, Antonio Giovinazzi and George Russell. Jenson Button also joined the grid, as did Arthur Leclerc, younger brother to Charles.

The siblings immediately showed they meant business in qualifying, with Charles taking P2 and Arthur P5. The rest of the F1 drivers also made it into the top 10 with the Ferrari man. Russell managed P3 with Albon in P6 just ahead of Latifi, Giovinazzi and Norris.

Norris, the most impressive of the bunch when it comes to Esports, never got to make up for his disappointing qualifying performance as he was kicked out of the session before lights out. As the rest got underway, he instead rang Max Verstappen for a shoulder to cry on.

Thankfully, there were no such issues for the others. Leclerc got away well to hold his lead at the start, just ahead of Russell, Albon and his brother. Further back, Giovinazzi and Latifi did battle with Stoffel Vandoorne for P7.

The Red Bull of Albon then dropped down the order into P12 as the Thai driver got too much kerb and went spinning into the barriers. Rumour has it Helmut Marko is seriously considering dropping him for the next race.

Russell then made a mistake of his own, allowing a Leclerc 1-2 to take shape. That didn’t last long, however, as F2 driver Christina Lundgaard forced Arthur into an error that dropped him back to P5 after eight laps.

The pit-stop window then opened and Button briefly made it to the dizzy heights of P2 before coming in and rejoining in P7. After everybody had pitted for new tyres, Charles Leclerc still led comfortably ahead of Lundgaard and Russell. It would prove to stay that way for the remainder of the race as neither managed to get anywhere near him.

The most entertaining battle in the latter stages proved to be the fight for P4 between his brother and Giovinazzi, with the former coming out on top thanks to a Turn 1 pass down the inside that Daniel Ricciardo would be proud of.

Behind them, Albon recovered to take P8 while Latifi came home in P11, between Pietro Fittipaldi and Button. A train of cars followed the former Brawn driver closely over the line, with Johnny Herbert and Ben Stokes a further minute and a half down.

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1 and like our Facebook page.