Returning Russell rockets to the top at Silverstone

After another busy week in motorsport, our cravings for F1 content have been satisfied once again by other virtual Grand Prix. George Russell and Alex Albon stole the show both on the Silverstone track and on their streams. The friends kept us all entertained with their teamwork which ultimately allowed them to beat the rest of their competition. Callum Ilott came through for a well-deserved P3, beating the equally remarkable Fittipaldi brothers who finished out the top 5.

Once again, the sprint race qualifying was exciting and dramatic. Brendon Leigh beating Marcel Kiefer to pole, giving Illot the best shot in the feature race, with Albon close behind. After a very promising race from Alessio di Capua, a last-minute error left Nicholas Latifi on the back foot. This was not the case for George Russell however, with Alvaro Carreton charging through to an impressive P5. The driver who lost out most from the sprint race was last week’s winner Enzo Fittipaldi. The teenager started from the back following a poor performance from Floris Wijers, giving him a lot to do in the feature race.

Feature Race:

The racing drivers and celebrities brightened up a wintery Sunday evening with excitement and overtaking on the British track. After George and Alex’s hilarious Saturday practice session on Twitch, everyone was concerned about whether this track would impress. Despite their overtaking issues and George’s abuse of track limits in practice, this did not stop him in the Grand Prix itself. While penalties did have a massive impact on the race order once again, it was nothing close to last week. This gave us a thrilling Grand Prix and a lot to discuss.

An amazing start from Thibaut Courtois left us hoping for a surprise challenger, although he slipped away from the top within a few laps. His overtake of Alex Albon was very impressive though. Following on from last week’s fastest lap, the goalkeeper is really proving himself as a big force in these races. Callum Illot remained focussed throughout the race and was rewarded with a well-earned place on the podium. Despite losing out to the alternative strategy of Albon and Russell, Callum gained in the early stages leaving these drivers under pressure. The George and Alex were ultimately unstoppable together, alongside the invaluable Marcel Kiefer as engineer. The Fittipaldi boys once again battled through the field to give Haas a good haul of points in the championship. Enzo fighting to finish P4 was a technical masterclass and something we all hope to see on track this year.

Winners and losers at Silverstone:

While George Russell won today, his partnership with Alex Albon was truly the best part of the evening. Anybody who tuned in to watch their streams on Sunday experienced both driving skill and comedic brilliance from the drivers. The two boys, accompanied by Marcel Kiefer, stole the show with their teamwork and discussions throughout the race. While Red Bull may not be impressed by the collusion between the boys, it gave us an unforgettable experience. It truly proved how much we will miss seeing these two friends in the paddock together every weekend. At least we know we can always rely on them to cheer us up off the track and we hope to see Alex back on the grid soon.

Given the successes of George Russell, the biggest ‘loss’ has to go to Tom Deacon. The presenter was quick to be so dismissive of the young Brit before the race. Despite trying to brush it off at the end of the stream, Natalie Pinkham did not let him forget it. The presenter has seen what the rest of the public knew already. George Russell never ceases to amaze us on the track both in reality and online. I doubt we will see Tom being so quick to judge a driver in the future. With such a different race structure this year, no driver should be dismissed so quickly. We simply can’t predict the outcomes of such crazy races.

We have all realised how difficult this game can be to play and how easily the race can go wrong. The professional set ups so many of these drivers have help them out with the racing so much. This makes the efforts of Pieface23 (Jack McDermott) so much more impressive. Unlike the other racers, he was using a controller to race, making his chances of success near impossible. The gamer finished the race in P14 after an almost successful attempt to get fastest lap, ultimately losing out to a determined Albon. He competed alongside professionals and with low expectations of success, he was remarkable throughout.

While there were many ‘winners’ in this race, there were very few losers. Unlike last week when penalties massively affected the entire race and Tonio Liuzzi was disqualified, nobody raced poorly this week. Every driver both professional and non-professional fought throughout. Criticising any driver following such an exciting and particularly entertaining race would be unfair. A multitude of drivers were penalised for the ridiculously strict track limits once again, particularly Robert Shwartzman. Despite this, all of the drivers were able to combat this to finish the race. This gave all of the teams some good points for the charity championship, which is the biggest priority.

Bring on Brazil:

Nobody could have predicted the joy we would all get from an evening of online racing. In such trying times, seeing our favourite drivers and supporting them as we would in the real races is exciting. It is also lovely to see so many non-professional drivers competing on the same stage. The distinctive events of a virtual Formula One Grand Prix calendar can’t be matched. They bring more excitement to our screens than any of us could have predicted. Being able to hear the thought processes and discussions that drivers go through during a race is particularly interesting. Even if we can’t see this in reality, we have a new love for online motorsport and the drivers involved.

The final Formula One Virtual Grand Prix of the schedule will happen next Sunday with a showdown at the Interlagos circuit. We’re all looking forward to a final race of the same quality as the two we have seen so far. Will Alex and George work together for the win again? Will the Fittipaldi brothers return to the podium? Or will a non-professional driver surprise us all? We can’t predict how these crazy races are going to end but we are all very excited to find out. With the 2021 car launches beginning with the McLaren team the following day, the season will officially be underway. The excitement for this season is growing and we are counting down the days to the first race in March.

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