Alexander Albon denies penalised Leclerc a virtual F1 hat-trick

Ruben Hill
May 6, 2020

Alex Albon won the latest iteration of the F1 Esports Virtual GP Series, finishing top of the podium (George Russell in second and Charles Leclerc in third) at Sao Paolo's Interlagos circuit in the digital recreation of the Brazilian Grand Prix, while his teammate, England cricketer Ben Stokes, managed to finish in a respectable thirteenth (importantly for him, four places above his worldwide teammate, Stuart Broad).

Albon and Leclerc engaged in a thrilling scrap throughout Sunday's 36-lap virtual encounter, which served as a replacement for the postponed Dutch Grand Prix with the 2020 F1 season now suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In winning his first sim racing GP on the Interlagos circuit - with the scheduled re-introduced Dutch Grand Prix not featuring on the 2019 F1 game being used - the Bures-raised Red Bull driver also put the demons of his 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix firmly to bed.

Albon, who collided with six-times world champion Lewis Hamilton on the penultimate lap of the real Brazilian race previous year while running second, made no mistakes in a wheel-to-wheel race-long battle.

Leclerc, victor of the last two virtual races in China and Vietnam, traded the lead on nearly every lap but opted for the hard tyres at his pit stop while the Red Bull driver came in later for mediums.

Eventually Albon sealed glory for Red Bull, while Leclerc suffered further disappointment when a three-second penalty relegated him down to third place, meaning a promotion for George Russell.

"I had so much adrenaline going through my body", Albon told Sky Sports F1. The pressure was unbelievable.

"I knew I had the penalty but after that it was also about having fun, so I kept overtaking Alex".

Leclerc said it was "proper fun" and similar to the real scrap he had in Austria with Verstappen, only with "less contact and even more overtaking".

"On pace, Charles was very quick but I was quite surprised because I thought most of us would go on soft/mediums - Charles chose to pit earlier than us and I definitely had the better strategy". But I really enjoyed this race, it was proper.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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