The second race and a second consecutive win for Charles Leclerc in Formula 1’s “We Race On” initiative. A fortnight ago, he won the Virtual Vietnam GP, which was held on the Melbourne track, and tonight Charles did it again in the Chinese GP held on the Shanghai circuit. The Monegasque driver thus brought home the win for the FDA Hublot Esports Team, the Ferrari Driver Academy’s dedicated Esports division. His team-mate Callum Ilott, the 21 year old British FDA racer came twelfth. The team’s representatives in the Pro Exhibition Race for professional sim racers came away with a fourth and seventh place for David Tonizza and Enzo Bonito respectively.
Qualifying. Charles was once again in dominant form in the 15 minute session used to set the grid for the Virtual Chinese GP, taking a second consecutive pole position ahead of Alex Albon in the Red Bull. Unfortunately, Callum Ilott encountered traffic and had to settle for twelfth on the grid.
Race. Leclerc got away in the lead, while Ilott got tangled up in a crash caused by Ciro Immobile, the Italy and Lazio football star, and dropped to the back of the field. Charles pitted on lap 6, coming out behind Albon who had pulled off a good undercut move. The Monegasque attacked at the end of the straight next time round, but it didn’t come off and after his pit stop, Ilott worked his way back up to 16th place. On lap 10, Charles pulled out all the stops and passed Albon on the straight, fighting off the Thai’s attempts at taking back the lead. Leclerc then pulled out a lead of over 2 seconds during the next few laps, while Callum continued to fight his way up the order to finish twelfth.
Pro Exhibition Race. First to tackle the Shanghai track in virtual form were the professional sim drivers, who had to contend with torrential rain during qualifying. David Tonizza secured a place on the second row, just beaten by the former world champion in this category, Brandon Leigh (Mercedes) and the winner of the Vietnam Virtual GP, Frederik Rasmussen (Red Bull).
As for Enzo Bonito, he had to settle for ninth place on the fifth row. The race was run in the dry and David did not get the best of starts, dropping two places, while Enzo moved up to eighth, getting past Marcel Kiefer (AlphaTauri). Bonito was the first of the FDA Hublot Esports Team to pit and change tyres on lap 4, with Tonizza coming in next time round, both men switching from the Soft to the Medium compound. Once the compulsory pit stops were completed, Leigh, Rasmussen, Dani Bereznay (Alfa Romeo) and “Tonzilla” were all within one second of one another, while Bonito was seventh behind Daniele Haddad (Racing Point). Soon after, Alvaro Carreton, benefiting from new Soft tyres managed to pass Tonizza, who in turn got ahead of Bereznay to take fourth place. Bonito finished seventh.