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Race Review’s: Virtual Monaco Grand Prix

 

The #RacefromHome FIA Formula 2 GP series made the virtual trip to the principality of Monaco this weekend with round three at the Circuit de Monaco with the weather being absolutely perfect in the virtual French Riviera.

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This has been the third Virtual Racing round that is completely dedicated to the junior formulas and we had another star-studded grid._

Qualifying saw Lirim Zendeli take the pole for the feature race with Jack Aitken and Arthur Leclerc second and third respectively. Robert Shwartzman and Dan Ticktum both newbies to the official F2 virtual race series both doing well with the Russian in seventh and the Brit in eighth.

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Fan favourite Davide Valsecchi was in fourteenth while at the back of the grid we saw all the experienced drivers lag slightly behind the rest. Artem Markelov was last with Roberto Merhi and Luca Ghiotto not far behind.

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Feature Race:

Lirim Zendeli started on pole for the first time in the F2 Virtual Racing series and he made the pole position count around the tight streets as he took the lead into Sainte Devote ahead of Arthur Leclerc who made the jump on Jack Aitken, with Aitken slipping behind Leclerc in third.
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Meanwhile further back there was chaos as Juan Manuel Correa run wide at Sainte Devote and smacked the barrier after being hit by Dan Ticktum before bouncing off the wall into the path of Ticktum and causing a major pileup leaving that above eleventh to run away from the mayhem. Missing from the action was Nobuharu Matsushita who disconnected during Qualifying.
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Ticktum got himself one of five penalties he’d get in the race for his troubles, in a race where it was penalties being dished out to a lot of drivers around the tight street track.
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At the front, Zendeli ran wide at the right-hander in the Tunnel and hitting the wall slightly; with damage turned off he was able to still battle with Leclerc for the lead. Leclerc tried to go around the outside of Zendeli at the Nouvelle Chicane, but to no avail, as Zendeli was strong on the brakes.
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On the next lap, Leclerc tried a move at the Fairmont Hairpin, a move which his teammate Robert Shwartzman tried earlier but failed on Lap 1. It was a similar outcome for Leclerc as he not only wasn’t able to pass Zendeli, he also got muscled out of the way by Louis Delétraz. That began a slight backwards trip for Leclerc prior to the mandatory stops as he slipped back as low as fifth behind Aitken and Théo Pourchaire.
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Delétraz continued to pressure Zendeli in the early stages of the race as he was trying to make full use of his Ultrasoft tyres before having to pit earlier than Zendeli. Leclerc meanwhile made a move on Pourchaire who made a slight mistake at the second part of the Swimming Pool chicanes to give Leclerc 4th and chase Aitken.
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Lap 8 saw Delétraz, Leclerc and Aitken pit in the leading group. Zendeli stayed out having started on the Supersoft compound and was extending his stint. While in the battle for fourth which in effect was the battle for eighth due to Callum Ilott not pitting, Leclerc tried a move on Aitken at Sainte Devote after a mistake from Aitken, only for Aitken to firmly shut the door him.
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Ilott lost third after a brilliant move by Aitken on the outside the very next lap to third as Ilott’s tyres started to fade, Leclerc followed suit to move to fouth. Leclerc, however, would end up second best the next time he tried a move on Aitken, once again at Sainte Devote but this time on the outside, with Leclerc, unfortunately, smacking the wall. Pourchaire being the main beneficiary from that incident to move up to fourth.
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The crucial moment of the race happened at the end of Lap 14 as Zendeli pitted for Ultrasofts. The overcut didn’t work as Delétraz assumed the lead of the race in a battle shaping up to be a close one.
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Aitken lost third due to a mistake out of the corners that gave Pourchaire and Leclerc the free positions.
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Zendeli meanwhile on fresher and softer rubber was hounding the back of Delétraz for 6 laps after his stop, only for the German’s connection to fail him on the penultimate lap and as a result, he couldn’t challenge for the win.
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That paved the way for Delétraz to win the Feature Race comfortably ahead of Aitken despite finishing 3rd on the road, benefiting from having fewer penalties than Pourchaire who finished third, Enzo Fittipaldi fourth who had a consistent race, Zendeli fifth despite having the AI drive for him in the last lap with a pit excursion for good measure, Leclerc sixth after spinning on the last lap trying to pass Pourchaire, with Calan Williams seventh, Correa eighth to start on Sprint Race pole, Marcus Armstrong ninth and Felipe Drugovich tenth in a crazy Feature Race.
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Sprint Race:

From start to finish the streets of Monte Carlo delivered its usual excitement and dramas. From spectacular spins to bouncing off barriers.

With damage ‘off’ it made for spectacular viewing as drivers used the Armco to slow their cars, that ordinarily would see them retire with unrecoverable damage. Speeds of around 80kmph were recorded as drivers launched their cars down towards the hairpin bend, usually the slowest corner of the racing calendar!

The Sprint Race saw Correa lead and maintain pole position as cars collided and spun behind him, with Calan Williams a close second at the end of Lap 1. Marcus Armstrong gained himself a penalty on Lap 2.

Caldwell also earned himself a two-second penalty, as did Dan Ticktum, on his first official virtual Grand Prix. Dan picked up the unconventional braking tricks after seeing the advantage it gave to other drivers.

By Lap 3, Delétraz caught Correa, Leclerc, and Williams in the battle for the podium. Lap 4 saw Ahmed, Caldwell, Pourchaire, Armstrong and Ticktum pick up more penalties, and Leclerc half spun at Rascasse in a desperate overtake attempt for first position.

A coming together on the final lap between Leclerc and Correa saw Arthur lose out as he got out of shape heading into Casino Square. The driver racing at his home GP could not find his way past as Juan Manuel made his car as wide as he could.

Correa disappointingly earned himself two separate penalties on the final lap as it looked like he’d created himself a historic result. He was demoted to third place, leaving Louis Delétraz to clean up and finish on the second step of the podium.

Arthur Leclerc won his closest battle yet at his home Grand Prix in the glorious sunshine at the virtual Monte Carlo!!

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Another great race from the virtual world of F2 and F3

The races came at us fast and frantic as always with the studio pairing of Matt Gallagher and Alex Jaques struggling to keep on top of the action like most of us. Monaco without damage offers us some fun when it comes to late braking but some fans on twitch commented that they would prefer some light damage so that they didn’t push so much and receive all the time penalties. It’s hard to disagree but either way, this is some welcome fun and action for race fans around the world, and we love it!

 

Missed it?

Watch the race again here on the official F1 YouTube 

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Let us know your thoughts @F2inside on Twitter by sharing this post. 
Ensure you check our other pages here on insideF2.com for all the latest news.
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Written by: 
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Race 1: Amir Haziq Amiruddin
Race 2: L.A. Wilshaw /Twitter @1_LA
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Edited by: insideF2.com Media Team
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*Image Credit: Formula 1 Official Twitch / You Tube
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