Back to back to Baku. That’s how his Williams team described his feat on social media. With three wins on the bounce, George Russell proved himself the class of the field in the Virtual Grand Prix series, with a crushing victory in Baku his latest accolade.
GEORGE ON FIRE
Starting from pole, the Williams racer sauntered into the distance, finishing some four seconds ahead of next-best Alex Albon. The Red Bull driver ran an alternate strategy, pitting for the hard tyres after a short first stint, but was never really a threat for the win. Instead, the challenge from behind was the most pressing, with Esteban Gutierrez continuing his fine form to pick up another podium in third.
Lando Norris put in his finest virtual performance so far to finish fourth, ahead of newcomer Oscar Piastri. The Renault Academy and FIA Formula 3 championship contender looked right at home, after securing victory earlier in the night during the F2 Virtual Racing Sprint race.
Pietro Fittipaldi was sixth, ahead of Nicholas Latifi, YouTuber Ben ‘Do You Have Damage’ Daly, Anthony Davidson, and Jimmy Broadbent, who seized the final pointerino in tenth place.
One name absent from the top 10 was Ferrari Driver Academy’s Charles Leclerc, who was always in the wrong place at the wrong time during the event. He didn’t get a clear run in qualifying, and with a compromised position for the start, he was caught up in several collisions, winding up P14.
Series newcomers and fellow F1 stars Pierre Gasly and Sergio Perez also finished outside of the points, finished P12 and P15 respectively. In the battle of the footballers, Belgium international keeper Thibaut Courtois took top honours, finishing a frustrating eleventh. The other shot-stopper in the field, AC Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma, crossed the line 16th, with Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte in P18.
DUEL FOR THREE
The ever-fascinating Pro Exhibition series played host to another instalment of 4D laser chess, with a tantalising three-way battle between Jarno Opmeer, Lucas Blakely and David Tonizza only coming to a head on the final lap.
Reigning F1 Esports Pro Series champion Tonizza had taken pole, but was overcut by Opmeer and Blakely during the pit stop phase, dropping to third. Buoyed by his debut win in Monaco, Blakely took the lead from Opmeer, but had it snatched back on the final lap. To his great disappointment, Tonizza was also able to make it past him, dropping him to third.
It was a strangely off-key evening for Red Bull however, with previous race-winners Frede Rasmussen and Marcel Kiefer both crashing out of the race.
F2 VIRTUAL RACING GOES OUT WITH A BANG
Formula 2 Virtual Racing was also present in Baku, hosting its fourth and final event. The aforementioned Oscar Piastri was in commanding form during the first race, storming to pole and then disappearing into the distance. The Aussie will make his FIA Formula 3 debut in July with PREMA, and gave his team a taste of things to come, with a truly dominant win.
Trident’s Lirim Zendeli was second, with series stalwart Arthur Leclerc completing the rostrum.
In the Sprint race, things went down to the very final few hundred meters. Louis Deletraz has been denied a photo finish victory before, but this time, the honour would be his. F2 veteran Roberto Merhi took the lead after an omnishambles start saw many drivers pointing the wrong way. With just the right amount of closing speed, Deletraz was able to overhaul him over the line, taking the win ahead of the Spanish racer, with Guanyu Zhou third. Check out the highlights here!
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN
All good things must end. And so, we draw towards the exciting conclusion of our Virtual Grand Prix series. Next weekend’s Virtual Canadian Grand Prix will be the last bit of racing action before Formula 1, Formula 2 and Formula 3 all return in Austria. Join us on Sunday June 14 for the Pro Exhibition and Virtual Grand Prix, where we’ll witness George Russell try to make it four wins in a row!
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