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Charles runner-up in the Virtual Spanish GP

Maranello 10 May 2020

Charles Leclerc finished second in the Virtual Spanish GP run on the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, while his team-mate, the FDA (Ferrari Driver Academy) coach Antonio Fuoco, came ninth. The Pro Exhibition Race proved to be a tough one for David Tonizza and Enzo Bonito.

Qualifying. In qualifying, the two FDA Hublot Esports Team drivers monopolised the second row, with Charles third and Antonio fourth. On the front row were George Russell (Williams) and Esteban Gutierrez (Mercedes).

The race. When the lights went out, Leclerc was very aggressive, fighting Russell and managing to get past him between turns 2 and 3. Alex Albon (Red Bull) also managed to get past the pole man, but not soon enough to get a tow off the Monegasque, because by then, Charles had already overtaken Gutierrez on the main straight to go into the lead. Stuck behind the Mercedes, Albon switched stragegy, making his first pit stop on lap three, rejoining on another set of medium tyres. Meanwhile, it did not take Russell long to get ahead of Gutierrez and chase after Charles.

Pit-stop. Leclerc and Russell pitted for tyres on laps 9 and 10 respectively, emerging behind Albon who was unable to pull out enough of a lead to make his strategy work by staying with the leaders after his second stop. In fact, having built a lead of only 5 seconds, he rejoined around 15 seconds behind Russell and Leclerc, who were putting on a great show. The Englishman passed the Monegasque on lap 26, Charles retaking the lead next time round, but the Williams was back in the lead on lap 28. In the end, with slightly fresher rubber, Russell pushed like crazy in trying to pull out at least a 3 second lead over Charles, given that he had a time penalty for not respecting track limits. In fact, as he pushed on, Leclerc ended up with the same penalty, leaving his rival to take a maiden Virtual GP win. Leclerc was second ahead of Gutierrez. Fuoco made just a single pit stop and found himself in traffic, after which he fought like a lion, but in the end he had to settle for ninth place. 

Pro Exhibition. As usual, getting the action started was the race for professional sim racers in which the FDA Hublot Esports Team crew struggled more than expected. Only in the dying seconds of qualifying did David Tonizza manage to  move into the mid-field and secure eleventh place. Unfortunately, Enzo Bonito was unable to improve and had to settle for 19th place on the starting grid.

The race.  When the lights went out, Bonito got off the line really well, moving up from 19th to 16th, before dropping one place to 17th come the end of the opening lap, after being re-passed by Fabrizio Donoso in the Renault. Tonizza had a tricky opening lap, dropping three places. Given the situation, the two FDA Hublot Esports Team drivers opted for a completely different strategy to the rest of the field, going longer than any other drivers in the opening stint, with the aim of finishing the race on the attack, making the most of the soft tyres. At the flag, the win went to Frederik Rasmussen (Red Bull) while Tonizza and Bonito finished 14th and 16th respectively.