George Russell dominates in Monaco for back-to-back virtual F1 race wins

F1

George Russell won bragging rights over seven other F1 drivers in the Virtual Grand Prix series at Monaco

MonacoVGP20

Williams will be hoping the pace George Russell showed around the virtual Monaco streets carries over to real-life next season.

The British driver dominated the show to win back-to-back Virtual Grands Prix by some margin.

A wet qualifying gave the grid a shake-up with the usual suspects in the form of Charles Leclerc and Alex Albon further down the grid than usual.

It left test, reserve and junior drivers to take the plaudits, as Pietro Fittipaldi scored pole position. Russell could only manage second position and David Schumacher starred for Racing Point and lined up third on the grid.

The race was effectively settled from lights out as the Williams driver aced his start from second to claim the inside line and take the lead into Saint Devote.
Fittipaldi on the other hand endured a nightmare, falling to fourth place by the halfway point in the first lap.

Leclerc set about recovering from a poor qualifying for his standards and was soon up to third, disposing of Schumacher with an opportunistic move into Portier.

The field settled into a frenetic race for the first few laps as Russell stretched his lead in clean air.

Esteban Gutierrez managed to squeeze past Schumacher for fourth on lap six. His move put both offline however, and Alex Albon tried to get the advantage with the better run towards Tabac.

The Red Bull driver’s plans fell apart just a few hundred meters later, as contact with Schumacher pitched him into a spin and down to ninth.

Arthur Leclerc was the first to dive into the pits from second place on lap nine but rejoined into traffic, ending his hopes of chasing down Russell.

His older brother was in one lap later, falling behind traffic in the form of Gutierrez and playing into the hands of the race leader nicely.

Both Ferrari’s quickly lost chunks of time to the Williams driver having run second and third prior to the stops, as Albon and Lando Norris battled one another for fourth.

By lap 11, the leader had a lead of over 20sec to his nearest rival, which was Fittipaldi after a robust move on Schumacher.

The Haas driver had grown impatient and performed a textbook bump-and-run at the Grand Hotel Hairpin, snatching second from the Racing Point, enabled by the damage simulation turned off for the Monaco round.

Norris was able to dive his McLaren down the inside at Portier, relegating Schumacher to fourth position just two corners later. The field remained the same for a handful of laps before it burst back into action on lap 16.

Gutierrez tried down the outside of Arthur Leclerc at Mirabeau, but the Ferrari fended the Mercedes off. At the Nouvelle chicane, Gutierrez sent a divebomb on Leclerc, but hit the barriers on the inside relegating him down to the lower end of the top 10.

Another two laps in a newly formed queue behind Norris, A. Leclerc was the next to make a move.

In his attempt to pass Norris on the main straight after an eternity behind the McLaren, he looked to have made a DRS pass into Turn One.

Norris didn’t back off into St Devote though and punted the Ferrari driver into the barriers and down to seventh.

On lap 22, Gutierrez opted to pit for a second time, the only one in the top 10 to do so. It was a shrewd move by the Mercedes man and put him right back into contention by the end.

Russell remained out until lap 28 when the Williams man finally brought his car into the pits for soft tyres. He rejoined comfortably ahead of anyone, leading Charles Leclerc by 14sec

Gutierrez’s bold move for a second stop had paid off and he was quickly closing on the top three.

He swept around the outside of A. Leclerc for third position with seven laps to go. The Mexican driver had an 8sec penalty to make up to the other Leclerc for any hope of second.

The gap evaporated rapidly, Gutierrez setting a relentless pace to track down the Ferrari and with four to go, was on the gearbox of the Monégasque driver.

Leclerc was able to keep the Mercedes behind until the penultimate lap. Contact between the pair exiting the tunnel put the Ferrari round and Gutierrez escaped with second place. Leclerc was able to resume in third such was the gap to his younger brother and Albon.

In their own scrap, Albon flew into action with the corners running out and went side-by-side with A. Leclerc for the entire first sector one lap from the end. The Red Bull driver claimed the high ground at the Hotel Hairpin and fourth place was his.

Out front though, Russell was uncatchable and took the victory by 36sec, leading every lap on the way to his second Virtual GP win.