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    Charles third in Virtual Dutch GP

    Maranello 03 maggio 2020

    Charles Leclerc finished third in the Virtual Dutch GP, held on the Brazilian Interlagos track, while his Ferrari Driver Academy Hublot Esports teammate Enzo Fittipaldi was seventh on his debut in this type of racing. The Virtual Dutch GP was the fourth round of the “We Race On” initiative launched by Formula 1 to provide some entertainment for the fans during the enforced lack of sports events because of the pandemic. As usual, before this race for those who usually race on track, there was a Pro Exhibition Race, in which David Tonizza finished sixth for the FDA Hublot Esports team with teammate Enzo Bonito failing to finish, having taken a gamble on tyre choice that did not pay off. 

    Qualifying. At the end of the 16 minute qualifying session, Charles was sixth, having made a mistake in the middle sector, just as he was improving his lap time, while Enzo Fittipaldi was an excellent third on his debut.

    Race. Fittipaldi made a better start than those on the front row but was involved in a collision with Stoffel Vandoorne (Mercedes) which allowed Alexander Albon (Red Bull) and Charles to go first and second respectively. These two soon pulled away from the field as they swapped places several times. Fittipaldi dropped to 14th after the incident but in just a few laps he was back to tenth. On lap 9 of 36, Leclerc pitted to undercut Albon, but after their pit stops they found themselves duelling once again, as they passed and repassed one another, making use of the DRS, which reduces the drag from the rear wing when cars are less than a second in front, thus giving the following car greater top speed down the straight. They also used it down the back straight leading to Turn 3 and swapped places. Fittipaldi came off best in the run of pit stops, moving himself up to seventh. The Brazilian then passed Louis Deletraz in the McLaren for sixth, but he had to add a five second penalty to his final time, so Enzo ended up seventh, pretty good all the same. Albon and Leclerc crossed the line pretty much side by side, with the win going to Albon. But Charles got a three second penalty for failing to respect the track limits and thus dropped to third behind George Russell in the Williams.

    Pro Exhibition. Getting the day underway was the Pro Exhibition Race for professional sim racers. In qualifying, pole position went to Dani Bereznay (Alfa Romeo), while FDA Hublot Esport Team driver David Tonizza made a small mistake in the second sector, and had to settle for seventh on the grid. Team-mate Enzo Bonito struggled a bit more and ended up 14th fastest.

    The race started in the wet and Tonizza lost a place at the start to Joni Tormala (Red Bull Racing), while Bonito passed Fabrizio Donoso (Williams) and Simon Weigang (McLaren). On lap 7, Bonito switched from rain tyres to slicks, but it didn't pay off, as there was still too much standing water on track. It meant the FDA Hublot Esport Team driver had to retire. Tonizza waited a bit longer and made the best of his pit stop, moving up to sixth, where he remained to the flag. The race was won by Red Bull’s Marcel Kiefer.

    Next round. There’s only a week to wait until the next Virtual GP. The professional sim racers and the real ones, along with many sports stars will be racing again next Sunday in the Virtual Spanish GP, to be held on the Barcelona-Catalunya circuit.