Russell took a dramatic win after a late penalty from Leclerc’s time; Russell has his own penalty before the mistake of the Ferrari star in the penultimate lap
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 5/10/20 8:01 night
There was the latest drama at the Virtual Spanish GP as a final penalty for Charles Leclerc gave George Russell an unlikely victory over his F1 rivals.
The pair struggled throughout the online race Sunday night around the Barcelona Circuit de Catalunya but it looks like Leclerc, the star of Ferrari, will seal another eSports victory when Russell is given a three-second penalty for cutting corners.
But when Russell tried to build a sizeable gap above his rival, Leclerc was slapped with the same penalty in the second round to give the young Briton his first Virtual GP victory – in dramatic circumstances.
“I am very happy,” said Russell, who was impressed in his rookie season with defender Williams last season. “I’m not used to this victory thing – I haven’t done it in a long time. I really miss it.
“When I passed Charles and I knew I was sentenced to 3s, I was very angry. But when the radio message came at the end … I almost wet myself!”
Leclerc, who was denied his third win in the series, commented: “It’s a shame. But George is very fast, I knew it from the start.”
Alex Albon, Leclerc’s main rival in the previous two races for Red Bull, also looked competing, but chose a different strategy from Russell and Leclerc with two steps and was fourth – behind former F1 driver Esteban Gutierrez.
Teammate at Williams, Nicholas Latifi, is fifth, with Sky F1 driver Anthony Davidson sixth – ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi of Alfa Romeo.
Thibaut Courtois is the fastest among footballers – Real Madrid goalkeeper rising in 12th place – but only two places ahead of Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero on his Virtual F1 debut.
Golfer Ian Poulter and Barcelona midfielder Arthur Melo supported the pitch, with Lando Norris retiring from the race completely.
The Story of Russell vs Leclerc
Russell’s victory was a comeback in more ways than one. Champion F2 2018 secured the pole position which was rather surprising, but dropped back to fifth on the opening lap. However, he did not have a nightmare as big as Norris, who started 13th but soon fell behind the pitch, and quit the session afterwards.
Russell, meanwhile, remained patient. He followed Leclerc’s one-stop strategy and kept the Ferrari star in his view throughout the race, with Albon, his main rival, pitting early on medium tires and then, adversity.
In the search for critical time when he tried to hunt down Leclerc, Russell too often took advantage of the boundary trajectory, much to his disappointment. But after overtaking Leclerc with extraordinary and taking a more clever line through the bend, he teased Leclerc because of errors in his own race costs.
George Russell is certainly happy after his first Virtual GP victory …
And especially after this starts!
Anthony Davidson: Not bad for a 41-year-old!
Sergio Aguero proved that he is clinical on the track and also in the field …
Virtual Spanish GP results
1. George Russell, Williams
2. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
3. Esteban Gutierrez, Mercedes
4. Alex Albon, Red Bull
5. Nicholas Latifi, Williams
6. Anthony Davidson, Mercedes
7. Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo
8. Pietro Fittipaldi, Haas
9. Antonio Fuoco, Ferrari
10. Max Fewtrell, Renault