The start of the 2021 Formula 1 season is still a few months away, but the Virtual GPs are back to fill the winter gap. The first of the three races within the F1 2020 game took place today at Austria's Red Bull Ring.
With a format change and the introduction of a charity prize pool, this quick championship is set to be brilliant.
Here's all the highlights from Round 1 in Austria!
This season sees the introduction of a Sprint Race prior to the Feature Race instead of qualifying. The F1 esports pros all compete in a five-lap race to set the grid for the Feature Race.
Ferrari's David Tonizza led from Mercedes' Dani Moreno at the front as Carreton and Biancolilla tangled and spun at the back.
Despite pressure from behind Tonizza held the lead to the line. Moreno finished second and Brendon Leigh made it a Ferrari 1-3 after a fantastic last lap move on Red Bull's Marcel Kiefer.
Virtual Austrian GP Highlights
Tonizza's victory meant that Marcus Armstrong lined up on pole, with Anthony Davidson alongside him. Arthur Leclerc pressured Davidson for P2 and made him out-break himself into Turn 3.
It was a Ferrari 1-2 upfront and Jimmy Broadbent sensationally sat P3 after a stunning start in his McLaren. On Lap 2 of 36, Leclerc licked the stamp and sent it as he brilliantly got up the inside of Armstrong into Turn 4.
Haas were looking good too with the Fittipaldis in P4 and 5. It got better for the Brazilian pair too, as Enzo passed Broadbent on Lap 3 to get onto the podium. Pietro would also pass the Brit on Lap 5.
Davidson had dropped to the back, but Stoffel Vandoorne was attempting to save face for Mercedes. He also got by Broadbent up to P5 on Lap 8 and became the lead driver on the alternate tyre strategy.
The Ferrari drivers were looking comfortable at the front, by a spanner was thrown in the works on Lap 11. Leclerc was leading but fell afoul of the track limits, earning a three-second penalty and giving Armstrong the net race lead.
At the back, Tonio Liuzzi was disqualified just before the halfway point for cutting too many corners.
Armstrong had a great chance to take the lead in the pit-stops but blew it by speeding into the pit-lane. A five-second penalty was further compounded by Enzo Fittipaldi completing the undercut on the Kiwi for P2.
Vandoorne led up until Lap 22 as Leclerc retook the lead, but by less than a second ahead of Enzo. The Belgian re-emerged in P5 but his fresher and softer rubber would make the top four sweat in the closing stages.
On Lap 28, Enzo Fittipaldi made contact with Leclerc into Turn 3 and took the lead. The pair were equal with their time penalties, so this was a legitimate overtake.
Leclerc was fired up though, taking the fight back to Fittipaldi and squeezed past into P1 with six laps remaining. Further back, Vandoorne overtook both Pietro and Armstrong for P3.
With just three laps left, there was more drama at the front. Leclerc picked up another three second penalty before Enzo re-took P1. There was contact and hard racing but it was fantastic entertainment!
Leclerc went all-in with a last lap move on Fittipaldi but he went off the track and gained another penalty. Enzo Fittipaldi sensationally won for Haas with Vandoorne hot on his heels.
So it was Enzo Fittipaldi in P1, followed onto the podium by Vandoorne and Leclerc, but where did everyone else finish?
|4||Alex Albon||Red Bull||12|
|10||Thibaut Courtois||Alfa Romeo||2|
|14||Jack McDermott||Alfa Romeo|
|15||Jeffrey Herlings||Red Bull|
Social Media Reaction
One of the drivers that we cut to in the sprint race was Marcel Kiefer. The German driver appeared to be smiling while he was rounding the Red Bull Ring, despite the break-neck speed he was flying at the time.
Alex Albon didn't have the best race, but he did complete some great overtakes, including this triple move on the back straight.
What's the next round?
The next round of the Virtual GP season will take place in a week's time. This time it will be the British GP at Silverstone, one of the best circuits in the world.
Keep your eyes peeled on our site for all of the driver announcements ahead of the race!