Alex Albon admitted he could feel the adrenaline coursing through his body after fighting off Charles Leclerc to win a gripping F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix on Sunday night. The Red Bull driver edged a hard-fought battle with Ferrari ace Leclerc to secure his first victory in the esports series.
The pair, who originally qualified in fifth and sixth respectively for the race at a simulated version of the Brazilian Grand Prix’s Interlagos Circuit, swapped the lead on countless occasions.
But it was Albon who took the chequered flag, with Leclerc demoted to third behind Williams’ George Russell after being hit with a three-second penalty.
Albon opened up on the impact of the race and admitted it was even more tense than taking to the track in the real world.
“I was shaking afterwards, I had so much adrenaline in my body,” Albon said. “I feel more scared driving a simulator than I do the real thing. The pressure was unbelievable.”
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Leclerc, who went into the race off the back of successive F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix wins, attempted a pit stop undercut to get the better of Albon.
However, that strategy failed and Albon pinpointed the plan he had enacted as being crucial to his thrilling victory.
“I think on pace, Charles was very quick,” Albon said. “I was quite surprised to be honest, because I thought most of us were going to go on soft-mediums.
“Charles decided to pit earlier than us and I think we had the better strategy. I tried to get Charles out of DRS and he kept overtaking me. And I was getting nervous about George coming too. It was all going on.”
Albon, who came through motorsport’s junior ranks racing against Leclerc and Russell, said the frenetic race reminded him of his younger days.
“It was like karting, you know like when you’re 12 years old,” Albon said. “It reminded me of cadets, where every lap you’re changing.”
Leclerc enjoyed Sunday’s race despite being demoted down to third following his exhilarating scrap with Albon.
“I knew I had the penalty, but after that it was about having fun and so I kept overtaking Alex,” Leclerc said. “I didn’t want to go.
“Even knowing that George would come back and it would probably cost me the second place. But I really enjoyed this race. It was proper and it was great time.”
Albon and Leclerc will do battle at Spain’s Circuit de Catalunya in the next round of the F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix series.
Published at Sun, 03 May 2020 23:01:00 +0000