F1 & esports round-up: Russell wins F1 virtual title

Geroge russell
The Austrian Grand Prix is live on 5 Live and the BBC Sport website

We’ve had drama, crashes, celebrities, real-life sackings – and now a ghost in the machine.

It took until the final round of one of lockdown’s most high-profile racing series, but glitches hit Formula 1’s virtual esports grand prix on Sunday – leading to one racer vanishing completely.

Williams’ George Russell won by a country mile – or maybe that should be a Google Street View mile – at a virtual Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Canada, after dominating the race, saying halfway through: “What has been going on behind? There’s a massive gap.”

What had been going on was a lot of sloppy racing, but by the second corner of the first lap, Alex Albon’s Red Bull simply disappeared from view, returning a few corners later, before going missing again on lap three.

Frustration for Albon, then, who finished second in the end, but it’s been a great series for Russell.

While it’s by no means a career maker or breaker – given champion Russell himself says it’s not like real F1 racing – this mini-season of eracing has demonstrated the Briton’s talent.

He has hammered almost everybody to win the title – even if the path was cleared a little by the absence of names such as Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

It was Russell’s fourth erace win in a row, after early-season promise from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc faded to the point where he decided to take part in the virtual Le Mans race.

There was a distinct lack of footballers in this race, given many have been competing as celebrity guests – presumably because they soon have some real work to do. But a rock star was showing the world how to do it – if you’re not a racing driver. Biffy Clyro’s Simon Neil came home 18th out of 20 runners after being trained by Alpha Tauri’s Daniil Kvyat – who is now owed several guitar lessons…

Is Daniil Kvyat joining Biffy Clyro?

But the most frustrating glitch appeared to have been saved for the virtual Le Mans 24 Hours race, happening across the weekend the real race should have taken place.

Red Bull’s F1 star Verstappen opted to compete in a more ‘realistic’ format – as the cars do not sustain damage in the F1 sim.

His Team Redline were dominating when a technical glitch meant he needed to pit – and it later caused him to crash out, leading to an expletive-laden reaction from the Dutchman.

Still, it’s not over – the W Series Esports League is live across the BBC every Thursday.

Who knows what else the world of eracing has in store…?

Jamie Chadwick
W Series E League on the BBC: From 11 June to 13 August, every Thursday at 19: 00-20: 30 BST

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Andy Warren