Red Bull driver Alex Albon resists Ferrari's Charles Leclerc for F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix victory at circuit where Lewis Hamilton ruined chances of first Formula 1 podium
Alex Albon ended Charles Leclerc’s winning streak in the F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix series after prevailing in a thrilling race-long battle.
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.
Back in November, Lewis Hamilton had spun him out on the penultimate lap to deny him a first F1 podium, before later apologising for his costly error of judgment.
Albon, who began his education at Littlegarth School in Nayland, took advantage of a chaotic start, which saw pole-sitting Mercedes test driver Stoffel Vandoorne spin, to zoom from his qualified fifth to first by the first corner.
The dual Thai and British nationality driver then spent the rest of Sunday evening's race trading the race lead with Ferrari’s Leclerc.
The pair built up a six second lead from Williams' driver George Russell in third, before a three-second time penalty for Leclerc, after he exceeded track limits, eased the pressure on Albon. The Ferrari star, who had won all the three previous Virtual Grand Prixs since the coronavirus pandemic forced a lockdown of F1's 2020 season, to finish third.
After the race, Albon, who now reportedly lives in Milton Keynes with his parents, near to Red Bull’s racing base, said: “I was shaking and sweating after crossing the line as I had so much adrenaline in my body.
“I think my team and our strategy ultimately gave us the edge as on pace, Charles was very quick.”
His team-mate and England cricket star, Ben Stokes, also impressed with a solid finish in 13th position.
Stokes was in a battle towards the back of the field after qualifying 18th and managed to smash his sole aim of beating fellow England cricketer Stuart Broad, who finished four places behind in 17th.
Albon added: “Qualifying wasn’t great but I’ve been practising my starts and I’ve got to thank Honda and my engineer Marcel for the great launch!
"Once Charles and I had built a gap we started to fight and it was really good fun, I enjoyed it a lot and ultimately, we had the best strategy.
"It was nice to get the adrenaline going and feel the pressure slightly – it’s something we miss from the race weekends.
"It was great too to have my team-mate Ben back and he did a great job after all the practice he’s put in.”
Albon will be back in action on Sunday in the next round of the F1 Esports Virtual GP Series at Spain’s Circuit de Barcelona (6pm BST).
Full race coverage is available via SkySports F1 and Formula 1's website and official YouTube channel.
More by this authorRussell Claydon