Alex Albon denies Charles Leclerc Formula One Virtual Grand Prix hat-trick

Alex Albon claimed his first Formula One Esports Virtual Grand Prix win, denying Charles Leclerc a third straight success.

Red Bull driver Albon took the lead on the first turn after a faltering start from pole-sitter Stoffel Vandoorne and exchanged it with Ferrari rival Leclerc on countless occasions throughout the race.

The pair overtook at every opportunity on the simulated Interlagos track – chosen as a stand-in for Zandvoort, which was not available on the game – but a three-second time penalty effectively scuppered Leclerc’s hopes.

He continued pushing Albon to the line but the Londoner held on and Leclerc’s penalty, once applied, saw him slip to third behind George Russell.

Albon told Sky Sports F1 that a surprising pit-stop choice from Leclerc had given him the advantage.

“I definitely had the better strategy,” he said.

“Charles was very quick on pace, I was quite surprised because I thought he was going to go soft-medium and he decided to pit earlier. He kept overtaking me and I was getting nervous…it was all going on.”

Asked to estimate the number of times the pair had swapped the lead, he added: “In 36 laps…I would say 20 overtakes, maybe 25. It was proper fun.”

In the battle of the England cricket stars, Ben Stokes – on his second outing – was too quick for fellow guest driver Stuart Broad.

Ben Stokes (left) got the better of England team-mate Stuart Broad
Ben Stokes (left) got the better of England team-mate Stuart Broad

“I took part in Australia, which went horrendously, but today was good because I had a bit on it with my mate,” he said.

“Me and Stuart have been training together but as soon as we knew we were going to do the proper race it threw all that out of the window.”

Asked if he would be back in two weeks for a virtual Spanish Grand Prix, he responded: “I’ll have to look at the track.”