Yesterday’s race took place on the date of what should have been the first ever Vietnamese GP, now like so many other races, postponed or cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic. With the Codemasters F1 2019 game clearly not featuring the Hanoi track, the race was run instead on Melbourne’s Albert Park street circuit, the actual Australian GP being the first cancellation of this year. The live stream, which could also be seen here on our site, began last night at 21h00 CET.
The event consisted of 18 minutes of qualifying, followed by a 28 lap race. Given the mixed ability levels of F1 drivers and celebrities, the cars were given identical set-up and performance levels and possible damage was also turned down, while driver aids such as ABS and traction control were available as options.
Unfortunately, our race was something of a repeat of the previous round: chaos at the start and some optimistic moves from those starting further back compromised matters for our pair, right from the first few corners. Luca and Nunzio started from P11 and P14 respectively, with “rookie” Charles Leclerc on pole for Ferrari and George Russell alongside him on the front row in the Williams. At the start, Salvadori got away cautiously going into turn 1, but he was hit from behind and dropped to the back of the field. The same thing happened to Nunzio a few corners later and in the chaos, he also spun. Thus began a long attempt to move up the order and they were 16th and 17th two laps later.
The main aim of these Virtual GPs is to put on a show for the fans, given that no points are awarded and Salvadori and NU89 did just that, gradually picking off those ahead of them, always in line astern, with a safe gap between them, in a great display of teamwork. A good pace, the right strategy and a cool head got them to their pit stops for Luca on lap 11 and NU89 on 13, before battling with Vandoorne (Mercedes), Davidson (Racing Point) Fittipaldi (Haas) and Button (McLaren).
After that, from the halfway point onwards, the gaps were too big for any more duels. Charles Leclerc won from Christian Lungaard, the young Renault Academy driver and George Russell in the Williams. Luca Salvadori had one last thrilling duel with former F1 world champion Jenson Button on his way to finishing twelfth. NU89 put in a solid performance to cross the line behind his team-mate in 13th spot after coming off best in a long duel with Andre Heimgartner (Renault), the New Zealander who races in the Australian Supercars Championship.
Luca Salvadori (P12):
“It was a nice race, apart from what happened at the first corner! This time, I was very careful to avoid any collisions, but someone hit me from behind and spun me round. I rejoined last, but I had a good pace and the right strategy so I was able to get back some places. It was a shame, because with the pace we had, we could have been in the top eight. Let’s hope we can do better another time.”
Nunzio “NU89” Todisco (P13):
“It was a good race and I’m happy because the competition was at a very high level. In qualifying I couldn’t get under the 1’21s mark, but in the race our pace was good and we were able to get into the points, but then we had a bit of bad luck. We were wheel to wheel with Heimgartner for quite a few laps, all the way to the end, but I managed to keep the position.”
The Pro Exhibition race, featuring our professional Esports racers, ended with the win going to our former driver Frederik Rasmussen (Red Bull Racing Esports.) Our duo of Marcel Kiefer and Patrick Holzmann finished P7 and P11 respectively. You can see all last night’s action here. Formula 1 Esports will be back on 19 April with the Virtual Chinese Grand Prix.