MUST-SEE: Highlights and best bits as Leclerc takes another Virtual GP win
This time last month Charles Leclerc had never played Codemasters’ F1 2019 game, but on Sunday evening the Ferrari driver stormed to victory in the Chinese Virtual Grand Prix to make it two wins from two since he began competing in the Virtual GP series.
The Monegasque driver qualified on pole for the race around the Shanghai International Circuit then lined up on the grid which contained six other current F1 drivers, plus golfer Ian Poulter, Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, and Lazio striker Ciro Immobile.
You can watch all the best bits from the race in the highlights video above.
Chinese Virtual Grand Prix driver line-up
|Team||Driver 1||Driver 2|
|Alfa Romeo||Antonio Giovinazzi||Juan Manuel Correa|
|AlphaTauri||Ciro Immobile||Liam Lawson|
|FDA Hublot Esports Team||Charles Leclerc||Callum Ilott|
|Haas||Pietro Fittipaldi||Louis Deletraz|
|McLaren||Lando Norris||Carlos Sainz|
|Mercedes||Stoffel Vandoorne||Esteban Gutierrez|
|Racing Point||Anthony Davidson||Jimmy Broadbent|
|Red Bull||Alex Albon||Thibaut Cortois|
|Renault||Guanyu Zhou||Ian Poulter|
|Williams||Nicholas Latifi||George Russell|
Once the lights went out Leclerc immediately began pulling away from the chasing pack, but he had to fight for his win, with Alex Albon pushing him hard all the way.
The Red Bull driver even took the lead by undercutting Leclerc during the pitstops, but the Ferrari man wasn’t fazed and battled back past Albon with a gutsy overtaking move that ultimately gave him the win.
It is his second win on the trot in the F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix series after he took victory on his debut two weeks ago at the Albert Park track in Melbourne.
After the race he tweeted: "The post race celebrations are somehow feeling a bit different. Switching off the computer and go cook white pasta is a bit less glamour than spraying champagne on the podium."
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Best overtaking move of the race
It has to be Leclerc’s forceful lunge on Albon, which ultimately gave him the race win. He made his move going into turn 1 and even had to take to the grass as the Red Bull man fought back, but eventually the Ferrari emerged ahead, setting him up for the victory.
Professional golfer Ian Poulter was perhaps the best value of the guest stars in this race, pulling off a great move to overtake Antonio Giovinazzi as the pair battled in the midfield, even if the Alfa Romeo driver did take the place back a few corners later.
“It’s not easy at all,” the Ryder Cup winner said. “It’s so much fun, but more pressure than I experience week in, week out. These guys are so quick, and you think you’re ok, and actually you’re rubbish.”
Real Madrid vs Lazio on track
Goalkeepers often fancy themselves as being a bit handy playing outfield, and in this race at least, Real Madrid stopper Thibaut Courtois took the honours, coming home 15th and ahead of Lazio and Italy striker Ciro Immobile.
The Belgian ‘keeper, racing for Red Bull, even managed a bit of team tactics, by holding up Charles Leclerc for a few corners in a bid to help his team mate Alex Albon.
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How did the other F1 drivers get on?
George Russell put in a good showing for Williams, finishing fourth behind the podium trio of Leclerc, Albon and F2 driver - and Bahrain Virtual Grand Prix winner - Guanyu Zhou.
Next up was Carlos Sainz who came home ninth after recovering from a crash on the opening lap. He was followed by Nicholas Latifi in the second Williams, while Giovinazzi didn’t manage to finish, and Lando Norris was once again bedeviled by technical problems meaning he failed to start the race.
And if you missed any of the action you can watch all the highlights from the race in the video at the top of this article.