eSportsFormula 1

Guanyu Zhou wins first Formula 1 Virtual Grand Prix

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Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

After the inaugural virtual Grand Prix series, the Renault junior driver takes the checkered flag for the race in Bahrain.

The initial race for the virtual series hosted by Formula 1 Esports featured current formula 1 drivers, former F1 drivers, F1 reserve drivers, young guns from other single-seater categories and celebrities to complete the grid.

Initially, it was decided to be a 50% race distance with a total of 28 laps, but given some technical difficulties for some drivers, it was shorted to 14 laps.

Having a short qualifying session with 18 minutes in the clock, it was BMW works driver Philipp Eng who took pole position driving the RB15 and just right behind him Esteban Gutierrez completing the front row. Zhou and current Williams F1 driver Nicholas Latifi completed the second row.

It was a bit of a chaotic race start towards turn 1, as first sight the Racing Point driven by the former F1 driver, Nico Hulkenberg, and the Ferrari driver, Dino Beganovic came into contact just in front of the pit straight, resulting with Hulkenberg spinning into the barrier.

At the front, Zhou managed to hold his position battling with Eng and Gutierrez, just after turn 1, Zhou lost the position with Johnny Herbert starting from the back and jumping straight away to an early lead of the race by cutting the first corner.

Herbert picked up a penalty for cutting the chicane, but the lead was very short as Eng forged in to the lead just before the end of the first lap. Zhou was then battling with Eng, following him until he took the lead on lap three, swapping places over the next few laps.

As a result of having technical issues McLaren driver Lando Norris did not take part at the start of the race, however, the MCL34 driven by AI, positioned Norris after lap 1 in ninth place; When the leaders pitted, former McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne took the lead just in front of Norris.

When the midfield drivers completed their respective pit stops, Zhou regained the lead with a very comfortable gap of nine seconds ahead of Eng. Vandoorne claimed third place by passing Jimmy Broadbent.

Lando Norris was able to re-join for the final laps battling with Broadbent; on the final lap Broadbent crashed into the gearbox of Norris, making him spin onto the main straight, Broadbent secured fourth place while the Brit managed to recover the car and crossed the line in sixth.

Latifi, Luca Salvadori, Paul Chaloner, Dino Beganovic and Esteban Gutierrez completed the top 10 in the first virtual Grand Prix.

Nico Hulkenberg was just behind the Mercedes of Gutierrez, taking eleventh place, Hebert who lead for a moment, finish the race in thirteenth, followed by Nicholas Hamilton. Music artist and songwriter, Liam Payne, crossed the lined at the back and in front, the cycling world champion, Chris Hoy secured sixteenth.

1Guanyu ZhouRenault311:31.05321:48.905
2Stoffel VandoorneMercedes-AMG Petronas1111:30.332+11.392
3Philipp EngRed Bull Racing111:31.365+14.985
4Jimmy BroadbentRacing Point1911:31.168+20.109
5Lando NorrisMcLaren1811:29.731+24.813
6Nicholas LatifiWilliams 411:30.845+27.636
7Luca SalvadoriToro Rosso611:31.713+30.578
8Paul ChalonerHaas1011:32.505+31.988
9Dino BeganovicFerrari711:31.768+36.743
10Esteban GutierrezMercedes-AMG Petronas211:31.429+45.641
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An engineer by profession, motorsport enthusiast. Covering F1 news for TCF.
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