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Charles Leclerc wins on his Esports debut

Maranello 05 April 2020

Charles Leclerc was victorious on his very first outing in the virtual world of Esports, winning the Virtual Vietnam GP, which was run tonight on the Albert Park track, better known for hosting the Australian Grand Prix. Charles’ brother Arthur, his FDA Hublot Esports team-mate, was a strong fourth, flying the flag for the Ferrari Driver Academy. On a good night for the team, David Tonizza came second in the Pro Exhibition race, for Esports professional drivers.

Qualifying.  It has to be said that Charles was in fine form right from qualifying and he inherited pole after Christian Lundgaard (Renault), who set the fastest time, was given a five place grid drop for failing to respect track limits. Arthur was fourth on the grid.

Race. Charles therefore led the field away and managed to keep the lead in turn 1, immediately pulling away from the group. Arthur also got off to a blazing start, which took him straight up to second. Then, Lundgaard started to close on him, eventually getting past on lap 9.

Final. Charles still led after the pit stops and began to put in consistent lap times, which saw him move still further ahead. There was just the one scary moment for the Monegasque, when he came up to pass Johnny Herbert, who two weeks earlier in the Virtual Bahrain GP had caused chaos on track! Charles won by almost 20 seconds from Lundgaard, while George Russell was third for Williams.

Arthur. The younger Leclerc brother was fourth for a long time, duelling with Russell for the third step of the podium. Unfortunately, they collided and the FDA Hublot Esports Team driver came off worst, dropping back to seventh. However, the youngster from Monaco, who will be racing in Formula Regional this year, climbed back up the order to steal fourth off Antonio Giovinazzi in the Alfa Romeo with three laps to go.

Pro Exhibition. Once the celebrities had finished, it was the turn of the professional Esports drivers to take part in an exhibition race. David Tonizza qualified on the front row, alongside Frederik Rasmussen, who was his main rival last season in the F1 Esports Series, while the new recruit to the FDA Hublot Esports Team, Enzo Bonito, was fourth. Rasmussen kept the lead after the start ahead of Tonizza, Flors Wijers for Haas and Enzo Bonito in the second Ferrari Driver Academy car. After the mandatory pit stop to change tyres, Tonizza and Bonito each lost a place, but the reigning world champion managed to retake second soon after, while Bonito was given a three second penalty for not respecting track limits. Tonizza lost valuable time in his duel with Wijers and crossed the line in second place behind Rasmussen, while Bonito finished tenth.