Formula 1 drivers raised over $70,000 in their Race for the World charity series, in which Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc was declared the winner.
The series, held on Codemasters’ F1 2019 video game, was conceived to race money for the World Health Organisation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
Despite having won only one of the first four races, Leclerc held a comfortable lead over his nearest rivals – his brother Arthur, Red Bull driver Alex Albon and Albon’s brother Luca – heading into the final two heats that were streamed by the various participants on Friday.
But he was made to fight hard for the title, having had his advantage slashed in the day’s first race in Barcelona after he’d placed only eighth in one-shot qualifying.
He overtook Alex Albon and George Russell on the road, and Russell’s Williams F1 team-mate Nicholas Latifi in the pits, before launching it down the inside of Haas F1 reserve Louis Deletraz at the Turn 10 left-hander for fourth place.
The younger Leclerc, a Ferrari junior, led much of the race, but yielded to Mercedes Formula E driver Stoffel Vandoorne on the final lap.
The drivers planned to run a proper qualifying session for the decider at the Red Bull Ring, but the game assessed the senior Leclerc a penalty for colliding with Vandoorne. It was agreed to switch to one-shot qualifying instead, which the Ferrari F1 driver topped.
He led off the line and all throughout the first stint, and soon retook the lead after his sole pitstop – but was passed late on by Alex Albon.
He then tried to overtake Albon around the outside of the Turn 3 left-hander, but was forced off – with Leclerc repeatedly exclaiming that Albon “did a Verstappen”, in reference to the finish of the 2019 Austrian Grand Prix.
But though Albon stayed ahead until the chequered flag, nearly everyone had been given corner-cutting penalties in the race, and it was Leclerc who ended up in first place in the final classification.
Albon’s brother Luca was on the podium in both of Friday’s races and ended up second in the championship, followed by Arthur Leclerc, Albon himself and Renault Formula 1 junior Christian Lundgaard.
Among those also participating on Friday were McLaren Formula 1 driver Lando Norris, Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and Lazio striker Ciro Immobile, who will make his F1 Virtual GP debut with AlphaTauri this Sunday.
The drivers had set $100,000 as an “optimistic” target for donations, but Leclerc said during the stream that that “they never thought we would arrive to where we are at the moment” in regards to the total amount pledged. Donations remain open for nearly another full day.
— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) April 17, 2020