Leclerc wins virtual Chinese Grand Prix

Charles Leclerc won his second successive Formula 1 esports race with victory in a virtual Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday, and then celebrated at home by cooking himself a plate of plain pasta.

The 22-year-old Ferrari driver, who took real life back-to-back victories in Belgium and Italy last season, won from pole position two weeks after he did the same on his debut in a virtual Vietnamese GP.


Racing on a simulator installed in his Monaco apartment, Leclerc prevailed over Red Bull’s Thai driver Alexander Albon by two and a half seconds.

Chinese F2 racer and round one winner Guanyu Zhou finished third for Renault.

“I’m actually enjoying very much playing, and streaming,” Leclerc said on Twitter.

“And I enjoy it even more when I win. But the post race celebrations are somehow feeling a bit different. Switching off the computer and go cook white pasta is a bit less glamour than spraying champagne on the podium.”

The 28-lap race was the third in a series designed to give fans something to watch after the COVID-A9 pandemic stalled motorsport worldwide and left F1 still waiting to start its season.

Six current drivers took part in Sunday’s race with McLaren’s Lando Norris, who would have been the seventh, suffering technical problems for the third time in a row.

His Spanish team mate Carlos Sainz crashed, led briefly and finished 11th on his debut.

Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and Lazio soccer striker Ciro Immobile also made guest appearances for Red Bull and AlphaTauri respectively, finishing 15th and 17th respectively.

Golfer Ian Poulter brought up the rear for Renault.

Williams’ George Russell finished fourth, thanks to Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne being penalised post-race, after a penalty for illegal blocking had demoted him from the front row of the starting grid.

Leclerc’s success on the official F1 platform wrapped up a busy and winning weekend all round for the youngster.

He also won a “Race for the World” esports charity event that raised more than $71,000 for the World Health Organisation’s COVID-19 solidarity relief fund.

Leclerc also beat Williams’ Canadian F1 rookie Nicholas Latifi in the final of Veloce Esports’ ‘Not the GP versus’ series event on Saturday.