We’re back for another Virtual Grand Prix!
After two successful events in place of the Bahrain GP and the Vietnamese race, the virtual circus rocks up to Shanghai.
Last races winner Charles Leclerc returns for Ferrari, this time with F2 driver Callum Illot in tow.
Vandoorne and Gutierrez again represent Mercedes. Vandoorne, fresh from a second place in the Formula E Race From Home series.
Alex Albon is joined at Red Bull this time by Real Madrid goalie Thibaut Courtois who’s proved pretty handy in the Veloce races and the Race for the World Series hosted by the drivers earlier this week.
McLaren hoped for its full F1 lineup with Carlos Sainz joining Lando Norris but Norris was unable to make the session once again.
Guanyu Zhou and Ian Poulter return to Renault having both races in Bahrain.
Aussie F3 racer Liam Lawson is teaming up with Ciro Immobile for Alphatauri.
Sim racer Jimmy Broadbent is returning to Racing Point with Anthony Davidson as well.
Antonio Giovinazzi returns with his team Alfa Romeo and Juan Manuel Correa lines up alongside him.
Haas have their development team Louis Deletraz and Pietro Fittipaldi.
And Williams have their race team in Nicholas Latifi and George Russell.
Charles Leclerc lined up on pole with Alex Albon alongside him.
Everyone made it through turn one unscathed with George Russell spectacularly taking it to the grass in his charge after taking a grid penalty for blocking.
The only casualty of lap one was Carlos Sainz who spun out in the middle sector in his first esports event.
Vandoorne and Gutierrez fought for fourth behind home hero Zhou.
Leclerc and Albon started to pull ahead, dicing for the lead.
Russell in an attempt to recover from his grid penalty pitted very early on lap 4 onto hard tyres to go for the end.
He was followed next lap by Albon, who forced the hand of Leclerc on lap 6.
Leclerc however was held up in the pits and Albon was able to take the lead after a fast outlap.
Leclerc kept tabs with Albon for the next few laps with his Red Bull teammate Courtois playing number 2 well holding up Leclerc for a few corners.
Some more laps passed before Leclerc made the critical move into turn 1, forcing his way through to take the lead.
From then on, Albon kept pace with Leclerc but was never able to quite make a move again in the race.
Behind them the fight was heating up between Guanyu Zhou and Stoffel Vandoorne for the final podium position.
Vandoorne had held their for most of the race but Zhou muscled his way past to take third.
They swapped positions a few more times before the end with Zhou defending very well into the long turn one as a stand out.
At the hairpin on the final lap Zhou was behind and got past Vandoorne to expertly take the podium at his home track.
Russell has quite an eventful race making some bolshy moves but he was able to finish in fifth on the road just behind Zhou and Vandoorne.
Vandoorne was classed fifth after picking up penalties in the race and had his team met Gutierrez in sixth behind him.
Louis Deletraz showed good pace to finish seventh with Liam Lawson in an excellent eighth, using a late pit stop to his advantage to pick up some places at the end.
Latifi was able to hold off Carlos Sainz who also made a late stop with the two finishing off the points positions.
Fittipaldi and Illot had quiet races, never quite making an impact on the net top 10 finishing 11th and 12th.
Jimmy Broadbent had a monster start from the back of the grid to be in the top 10 early on. At the early pit stop phase he even led the race which was brilliant for the YouTube star. He cane home 13th with Juan Manuel Correa not far behind.
Thibaut Courtois was close behind.
Anthony Davidson and Lazio striker Ciro Immobile both spent the whole race at the bottom of the leaderboard unfortunately.
And Ian Poulter rounded out the finishers but he seemed to be having a great time, even when he spun whilst chatting live to the commentary team of Matt Gallagher and Alex Jacques.
Giovinazzi didn’t make it to the finish but had been fighting for the lower top ten positions before hand.
This race was a much more serious affair than the other Virtual GPs have been with more F1 drivers involved and a fierce fight for victory between Leclerc and Albon.
It proved to be a brilliantly tense race with some very good wheel to wheel racing giving a very good motorsport fix.
There is an online poll to decide the next track because Zandvoort is not in the 2019 game.
Check F1 social channels to see where the next Virtual GP takes place.
You won’t want to miss it. They’re getting better and better.