Russell
George Russell crosses the line in first! © George Russell's Twitch, FOM, Codemasters

This week, the race was in the streets of Baku. 

Veterans of the F1 game series will know that Baku online is a melee and a half.

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The drivers in their sims prepping before the race begins © FOM

Thankfully for these guys there was no damage but reaching the limits of the track was still going to be very hard without being spun round.

The usual suspect drivers have been flying. The top sim racers in the Pro Exhibition Race beforehand were qualifying in the 1.36s. Bottas’ pole time from 2019 was a 1.40.4. George Russell’s first time in qualifying was a 1.37.4, he was not happy. His final lap was a 1.36.8. Which is insane.

The shock from qualifying was Charles Leclerc failing to hook it up and ending up in only P10.

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Charles Leclerc stuck behind Jimmy Broadbent © FOM, Codemasters

Russell and Albon lined up on the front row. Louis Deletraz was in third behind.

In his first Virtual GP, Pierre Gasly was in P7. Sergio Perez didn’t fair so well and started in 17th, a position ahead where he qualified after his teammate Jimmy Broadbent got a grid penalty.

The start was clean for Russell and Alex Albon but further back it was the obligatory mess.

Leclerc and Perez ended up sixth and seventh at one point before both dropping back down before the end of the lap.

Leclerc got caught up in his teammate Enzo Fittipaldi’s spin in the infamous castle section dropping him far down the order.

Russell set about pulling a lead from his close challengers who at the start of the race were Albon, Esteban Gutierrez and Lando Norris.

On lap 3, Leclerc was running last having pit on lap 1 to try something different in clean air, hoping for a bit of chaos ahead.

Russell was wary of pitting early due to traffic and it was Albon who jumped first and pit on lap 7, coming out in fifth on hard tyres, ahead of YouTuber Tiametmarduk.

Russell immediately responded onto the mediums.

Russell came out in first, his teammate Latifi slotted into second directly behind him without pitting with Albon in third.

When Latifi pitted, Albon was back into second.

Russell was wary of Albon’s pace on the hard tyre and by lap 18, he had a gap of 4.3 seconds. Albon was expecting to chip in on his lead late on but Russell was able to continuously extend the gap.

In the closing stages, Albon did start to close on Russell but he got a track limits penalty with three laps to go leaving George Russell to take another dominant win.

Esteban Gutierrez finished in third having a lonely but sound race.

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Lando Norris, invisible in his McLaren due to a pumpkin helmet, finished in fourth © FOM, Codemasters

Lando Norris had his best drive of all of his Virtual GP appearances in fourth ahead of Renault junior Oscar Piastri who previously had dominated the F2 Virtual races earlier in the day.

Pietro Fittipaldi came home sixth for Haas followed by Nicholas Latifi and Ben Daly (Tiametmarduk) who performed well for McLaren in his first official Virtual GP.

Mercedes simulator driver Ant Davidson and Racing Point’s ‘shed boi’ Jimmy Broadbent rounded out the top 10 after trying alternate strategies with a lot of pace at the end of the race.

Alfa Romeo’s surviving entry of Thibaut Courtois was ahead of AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly at the end after Gasly’s various track limits penalties came into effect.

The two Ferrari’s followed with a poor showing. Enzo Fittipaldi ahead of a very distant Charles Leclerc who was 11 seconds ahead of Sergio Perez in his very first event.

Italian national goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma had a decent showing in 16th for AlphaTauri ahead of an out of position Haas driver in Louis Deletraz.

Both were ahead of a very distant Renault guest in Aymeric Laporte, the Man City defender who didn’t give up despite being off the pace slightly.

Antonio Giovinazzi and Red Bull call up Matthias Walkner, the Dakar winner on motorbikes, struggled with connection and were unable to start the race.

The finale of the mini Virtual GP series is next week as the drivers take to Montreal for a final sim race before racing finally returns for F1 in Austria in July.

 

 

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