Charles Leclerc has promised “more funny races” among Formula 1 drivers and immediately started planning independent events after winning the Virtual Grand Prix on his esports debut.
The Ferrari driver started playing the official F1 video game just over a week ago as he and his fellow young F1 stars George Russell and Alex Albon joined the online-racing world.
Leclerc spent “at least” five hours on the game each day last week in preparation for the F1 Esports Virtual GP on Sunday, including taking part in a privately-organised practice race that he and the others streamed on their new Twitch channels.
Alfa Romeo’s online newcomer Antonio Giovinazzi, Russell’s Williams team-mate Nicholas Latifi and established online racer and streamer Lando Norris were also involved.
Leclerc said he and his fellow drivers had found it “very, very fun” and would continue to do more to entertain F1 fans during the hiatus caused by the global health crisis, which has postponed or cancelled the first eight rounds of the 2020 season and is due to affect more.
“It’s hard times for everyone and the idea to go on Twitch with some of the other F1 drivers was to be able to entertain you as much as we can from where we are considering the situation,” Leclerc said to fans.
“That’s what we did, I hope it works, I hope you enjoyed it. We’ll do some more funny races in the next few days.”
F1’s Virtual GP was a 50% distance race around Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit. The new series is designed to replicate the F1 calendar in place of the real-world events that cannot take place.
Australia was used on Sunday because the Vietnam GP is not represented in F1 2019, as the Hanoi race was only due to join the schedule this year.
Leclerc and his fellow drivers admitted they enjoyed their own private, shorter races more because of the concentration required for the F1 event.
“We should probably organise something – I don’t know, a championship where every day we try to race and stream to everyone,” Leclerc said to his colleagues.
They intend to organise future races between them in the coming days, with the next official virtual F1 race not for two weeks.
“We need to do something before,” said Leclerc, who was part of a much-improved representation of F1’s real-world drivers, up from two to six on Sunday.
He and his brother Arthur represented Ferrari, which had turned to Ferrari Driver Academy members Robert Schwarzmann and Dino Beganovic for the inaugural Virtual Bahrain GP.
“I’m not the team manager, I don’t know if they’ll retake me,” Leclerc joked in his post-race interview. “I believe the result is good, let’s see if they’re happy with my job and if they’ll take me again.”
Leclerc’s attempt at ending his stream was less successful than his virtual on-track effort. Watch the Monegasque’s endearing technological strife below.