HIGHLIGHTS: Watch all the action as Enzo Fittipaldi wins first Virtual Grand Prix of 2021
Enzo Fittipaldi, grandson of two-time Formula 1 champion Emerson, has claimed the first Virtual Grand Prix victory of 2021, the Haas driver – racing with his brother Pietro, who finished P5 – winning out from Stoffel Vandoorne around a virtual Red Bull Ring.
After starting down in P9, the Brazilian driver – who competed in FIA Formula 3 last year – weaved his way through the jostling pack to claim Haas’ first Virtual Grand Prix victory, sending them to the top of the teams’ standings – and giving their chances of securing the largest share of the donation from F1 to their charity Grand Prix Trust a boost.
Enzo was pushed all the way by Ferrari Driver Academy racer Arthur Leclerc – brother of Ferrari’s Charles – who had snatched the lead from his Maranello team mate Marcus Armstrong early doors. The latter started on pole position after 2019 F1 Esports Champion David Tonizza won the Sprint Race, but the Kiwi drifted backwards from there and would ultimately finish P6.
Some others could only dream of a P6 finish, as the sunny opening laps in the Austrian countryside quickly saw a downpour of carbon fibre. Tonio Liuzzi, motocross racer Jeffrey Herlings and Christian Lundgaard all got tangled up in the pack, plummeting the trio down the order.
Meanwhile, former real-world Red Bull racer Alex Albon was enjoying his charge from P18. He managed to swerve the flying debris at the start of his sensational charge, with the Thai driver eventually ending up P4, and just 1.4 seconds off the podium.
Leclerc was running comfortably in the lead for much of the race, but the Haas of Enzo Fittipaldi was making steady progress through the field. First, the Brazilian dispatched YouTuber Jimmy Broadbent, before executing a daring move on Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois that moved him closer to P1. Finally, a sweeping overtake Benjamin ‘Tiametmarduk’ Daly set up a showdown with leader Leclerc.
With eight laps to go, you couldn’t separate the two drivers, and there was even some contact made between the duo. With Leclerc going deep at Turn 3 on Lap 28 of 36, Fittipaldi was able to steal the inside line and claim the lead.
Five laps to go and Leclerc responded with an inside dive of his own for a convincing overtake. But with only three laps remaining, Fittipaldi once again went for the inside line giving him a lead he wouldn’t relinquish for the rest of the race, the Brazilian taking the maiden win of the series.
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With a raft of penalties handed out in the race, Mercedes’ Stoffel Vandoorne would ultimately leapfrog Leclerc for P2 behind Fittipaldi, Leclerc then claiming third, Albon fourth, with Pietro Fittipaldi rounding out the top five.
Sixth was Marcus Armstrong, who finished ahead of Alpine driver Oscar Piastri, Mercedes’ Anthony Davidson, AlphaTauri’s Luca Salvadori and Alfa Romeo’s Courtois, who closed out the top 10 – with the action now moving to Silverstone, as we head to Great Britain for Round Two on February 7.