Russell wins third-straight Virtual GP at Baku, Leclerc struggles

Josh Suttill

Russell, the winner of the previous two F1 esports races at Catalunya and Monaco, beat Red Bull’s Alexander Albon to pole position. Williams F1 driver Russell was able to maintain his lead at the start of the race and he earned a dominant race win ahead of ex-Formula 2 title advisory Albon.

Albon was unable to provide much competition for Russell, and Albon’s final hopes of claiming his first Virtual GP since his win at Interlagos were dashed when he picked up a three-second penalty for corner-cutting. Russell’s third race win in a row means he moves ahead of Leclerc to the top of the unofficial drivers’ championship, which was retrospectively constructed days before the virtual Baku race.

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Leclerc struggled in qualifying and could only manage 10th place. He fell further down the order at the start of the race when he was involved in a multi-car crash. 

Leclerc picked up 12 seconds worth of track-limits penalties and he finished down in 14th 

Mercedes reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez earned his second straight podium finish in third place, ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris who achieved his best Virtual GP finish in fourth position. 

Popular YouTuber Ben ‘Tiametmarduk’ Daly was eighth on his maiden Virtual GP outing, with long-time Mercedes simulator driver Anthony Davidson and popular streamer Jimmy Broadbent rounding out the top 10. 

Ex-Renault junior Jarno Opmeer won on his debut for Alfa Romeo in the F1 Esports Pro Exhibition race ahead of Racing Point's Lukas Blakeley and reigning F1 Esports champion David Tonizza. 

The final Virtual GP before the belated real-life F1 season starts will take place at the Canadian Grand Prix venue in Montreal next Sunday.