The seventh of the Virtual GPs organised as part of the “We Race On” programme, replacing the actual races on this year’s Formula 1 calendar with virtual ones, saw the Ferrari Driver Academy Hublot Esports team finish third and fourth with David Tonizza and Enzo Bonito in the Pro Exhibition Race for professional sim drivers. However, in the Virtual Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc and Enzo Fittipaldi had a much tougher time.
Difficult race. In qualifying, Charles and Enzo both struggled quite a bit on the streets of Baku. Fittipaldi managed to outqualify Leclerc, as he had done on his only previous appearance in the virtual Formula 1 world, at the Interlagos track. The Brazilian was eighth fastest, and the Monegasque was tenth. The opening lap was something of a disaster for both FDA Hublot Esports Team drivers who were involved in various accidents from which it was always going to be hard to recover. At the end of the opening lap, Fittipaldi was 16th, one place ahead of Leclerc. Both of them opted to go for an early tyre change to try and make up some places, but they had too much ground to cover and fought it out down near the back of the pack. The situation did not improve after a second stop. George Russell won for Williams ahead of Alex Albon (Red Bull) and Esteban Gutierrez (Mercedes) with Enzo and Charles 13th and 14th respectively. The next and final round, the Canadian Grand Prix, run on the Montreal track layout, takes place next weekend.
Pro Exhibition Race. As usual, getting race day underway were the sim drivers in the Pro Exhibition Race, who put on a fantastic show. In qualifying, David Tonizza took an amazing pole position for the FDA Hublot Esports Team, beating the Alfa Romeo of Jarno Opmeer by almost a tenth, while Enzo Bonito managed to take fourth spot, despite a small mistake on his lap. In the race, the reigning world champion fought Opmeer through the first three corners, managing to keep the lead ahead of the Dutchman and Racing Point’s Lucas Blakeley. On lap 3, the FDA Hublot Esports Team driver pitted for a tyre change, rejoining in traffic. That allowed Blakeley and Opmeer to pull off the perfect undercut. This trio then battled it out over the final 10 laps, with plenty of overtaking thanks to the slipstreaming effect on the long straight in the third sector on the Baku track. In the end, Opmeer managed to just get the better of his rivals, beating Blakeley and Tonizza, while Enzo Bonito was a strong fourth.