Russell wins on Virtual GP return thanks to Albon penalty - The Race
Esports, Formula 1

Russell wins on Virtual GP return thanks to Albon penalty

Feb 7 2021
By Nathan Quinn

Williams Formula 1 driver George Russell won his fifth F1 Virtual Grand Prix after a time penalty gave him the victory at Silverstone over Alex Albon.

Marcel Kiefer started on pole position for the five-lap esports driver sprint race, which determined the starting order for the celebrity main event under the new rules for the second season of the virtual series.

Ferrari’s Brendon Leigh started in fourth but moved his way up to second in the first few corners.

On the fourth lap Leigh dove up the inside of Kiefer at Brooklands to take the lead of the race and eventual victory, therefore giving pole position to Ferrari F1 reserve driver Callum Ilott for the feature race.

Kiefer’s second place meant Red Bull’s Alex Albon shared the front row with Ilott, while the efforts of Dani Bereznay and James Baldwin put professional footballer Thibaut Courtois and racing game content creator Jimmy Broadbent on the second row.

Russell, who won the final four Virtual Grands Prix that took place last year but had to pull out of the first race in 2021 late on, started from fifth courtesy of Williams Esports driver Alvaro Carretton.

A sprint-race opening-lap spin for Haas’ Floris Wijers meant Virtual Austrian Grand Prix winner Enzo Fittipaldi started from last on the grid at Silverstone.

As the main event kicked off, Real Madrid goalkeeper Courtois pulled alongside Albon on the run to Maggots on the opening lap and was able to pass the Red Bull driver for second place, albeit with the benefit of running on the softer compound of tyres.

It didn’t take long though before both Albon and Russell cleared Courtois, with Russell getting by him before Albon.

Just before both drivers pitted for new tyres, Albon overtook Russell at the inside of Stowe for second place, with Ilott still out in front.

Despite Ilott having built up an advantage of over two seconds, he had done that on the soft tyres and had to change over to the mediums whereas Albon and Russell were set to swap mediums for softs.

Therefore last year’s runner-up in Formula 2 was defenseless when Albon and Russell caught up to him, meaning victory would go the way of either the Red Bull or Williams driver.

A time penalty for violating track limits meant Albon had to cross the finish line over three seconds ahead of Russell to win the Virtual British Grand Prix.

With Russell able to keep within DRS range of him there was little Albon could do and Russell took first place on track with just over two laps to go.

Albon replicated Russell’s DRS-aided pass on the final lap, but Albon’s time penalty meant it was for naught.

Ilott held on to third despite his own three second-time penalty, with the Haas pairing of Pietro Fittipaldi and Enzo Fittipaldi in fourth and fifth.

F1 gaming content creator Ben Daly finished ninth while representing McLaren, and he was the highest-placed non-professional racing driver.

The final Virtual Grand Prix will take place next week with Interlagos as the venue. Haas currently leads the teams’ standings of the three-round series.

F1 2020 Williams George Russell Virtual Gp

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