F1 2021 Virtual Sao Paulo GP: Russell shows supernatural speed to take 6th VGP win running
The Virtual F1 caravan set their IP addresses for Interlagos this week as the charity F1 series completed its third and final round.
The Sprint race was a more muted affair than last week at Silverstone, as Longuet led from start to finish while holding off a spirited challenge from Brendon Leigh on lap 3 and 4. The French-Italian held strong however against the pressure to take the win.
Feature Race Report
If the Sprint Race was a lights to flag win for Longuet, the feature race was anything but as first lap spins for Arthur Leclerc and Nicolas Hamilton compressed the field and allowed Beganovic, Tsamere and from P14 on the grid, George Russell to take the top three.
It was easy pickings for Russell on Tsamere on lap 2, then setting off after Beganovic. Enzo Fittipaldi then cleared the comedian and tailed Russell up to the leader. Beganovic fell to the Brit a lap later into Turn 1, releasing undeniable pace as Russell extended this gap to 6.5 seconds on Enzo behind over the next 18 laps.
Alex Albon and Jake Dixon were locked together for some laps before the Thai driver made his way past, then taking 4th place from Tsamere before the Frenchman lost out on 5th to Dixon. Beganovic dropped back further to P3, losing the position to Enzo in the Haas. Hamilton the younger had recovered to 11th by lap 6 as Fittipaldi the older overtook the controller-equipped Pieface for into T1.
Tsamere seemed under intense pressure as Arthur Leclerc and Pietro Fittipaldi closed up behind, before quickly dispatching the Alpine driver in the same lap. Shed racer Jimmy Broadbent seemed to be sizing up Pieface before incurring a penalty for corner cutting, hopefully getting it out of his system before his upcoming Britcar campaign.
E. Fittipaldi, Beganovic and Albon were right together before Albon made his move on Beganovic over the next three laps, Déjà vu set in as the same defence was mounted from Junção through to Turn 4, wheels being banged all the down the intervening straights. Albon held 3rd place after the Senna S on lap 17, the squabbling allowing Enzo to take a 3 second gap in 2nd, as Beganovic fell further backwards.
The Senna S was a popular overtaking opportunity, as multiple drivers made their overtakes into the sweeping chicane. Leclerc snuck through on lap 12 to overtake Pietro Fittipaldi. The Brazilian tried to come back into T4 before losing the Haas and running wide. The McLarens pitted on lap 14 one after the other as discussed over their team radio channel, setting off a flurry of pitstops in the middle stage of the race.
After his tenure on softs out front came to a close, the unparalleled Russell pitted on lap 18 with a 6.5 second lead over Enzo behind. Crucially, Russell re-joined ahead of Leclerc and could set off with clear air to maintain his gap on the medium tyres. Enzo pitted as Albon romped away from Beganovic, before pitting himself a lap later to set up the final stage of the race. Russell cleared Dixon to retake the lead and add whatever he could to the time gap while his rivals were still making their way through the long runners.
Russell quickly extended his lead to 7.5 seconds over the soft clad Enzo, with Albon a further 3.7 seconds back completing the top 3. Leclerc and Dixon battled, as did Hountondji and Dennis, before the latter went through on the inside for P15 at turn 4. DIxon and Leclerc also traded moves, rubbing wheels over multiple laps, Dixon seemingly desperate to pass the Monegasque despite the penalty awaiting the Ferrari driver. The two battled for another few laps until Lap 33 before Dixon lost the Mercedes through the infield, losing any chance of taking P6.
Salvadori and Pieface battled similarly for 4 laps before the Fifa streamer lost control out of turn 3 to forfeit P10. Jimmy Broadbent overtook Tsamere on the road for 8th place, but with 3 extra seconds of penalties it would be no mean feat to take the position fully. Out front Enzo had brought down Russell’s lead to 5.9 seconds but with the edge of his tyre performance gone, the King’s Lynne native re-extended his lead out to 6 seconds on the final lap to take the win with a new record.
While they’d not reached the heights of week one’s race in Austria, the Fittipaldis did manage to take the top spot of the championship for Haas, securing $20,000 for the Grand Prix Trust.
|3||Alex Albon||Red Bull||15|
|10||Luca Salvadori||Alpha Tauri||1|
|11||Jack McDermott||Alfa Romeo||0|
|12||Thibaut Courtois||Alfa Romeo||0|
|16||Johannes Hountondji||Red Bull||0|
|17||Tonio Liuzzi||Alpha Tauri||0|
This left the standing for the 2021 Virtual GP championship as follows:
|3||Alex Albon||Red Bull||46|
The constructors championship also wrapped up with the end of the Grand Prix with the positions as follows: