The beginning of the new F1 season is a definitive highlight in the entertainment schedule of any racing fan – and so is (or should be!) the launch of the F1 Esports Virtual Grosser Preis von Oesterreich 2021. The Austria-based race is quite literally titled Big Prize of Austria, and nomen est omen – it’s a pretty great event.
This years’ iteration had stars like George Russell and Nicholas Latifi from team Williams in the starting grid – familiar names to esports racing fans. After all, Russell won the Virtual GP last year. However, racers like Alex Albon and Jeffrey Herlings were also part of the line-up – plenty of talent from all the teams. This year’s overall event featured three separate races, where all the teams that participate in the ‘real’ F1 tournaments had their teams competing for a share of a special prize pool.
Why is it special? Well, because the 2021 F1 Esports Virtual GP features a charity prize pool. Rather than the drivers themselves going home with their winnings, they get to donate them to a charitable cause of their choice. It’s also worth noting that EVERY team will get to donate part of the pool to their chosen charity – after all, in a charity event, there are only winners, not losers.
The events that determine who got how much will kick off with a sprint race where the teams F1 Esports Pro Series drivers determine their starting grid position. Then the racers, made up of not just esports racing pros but also sporting heroes and celebs took to the track.
The Feature Race
The bigger of the first two races – the Feature Race saw some surprising results – Enzo Fittipaldi from Haas F1 won, while Nicholas Latifi, another popular contender, came in 12th. Enzo is the younger brother of Pietro Fittipaldi, another racer in the Feature Race – he stood in for the last two races of the 2020 season on the Haas team, as the original driver Romain Grosjean was injured. He made his comeback now and managed a respectable 5th place finish.
One driver was disqualified – Scuderia AlphaTauri’s Tonio Liuzzi. He suffered from equipment failure – his steering wheel didn’t quite work, leading to him being unable to control his car, and ultimately failing in the corners and going off-track.
As for the Sprint Race, a 5-lap event featuring a different set of 18 racers, the winner was David Tonizza from Ferrari. His teammate Brendon Leigh (another familiar name for racing esports fans!) came in third. Mercedes driver Dani Moreno came in second. No players were disqualified, though it was obvious that Scuderia AT wasn’t having their best day – their racer Manuel Biancolilla came in last, and his teammate Joni Tormala took spot 14 of 18. They were both victims of first corner carnage, and struggled to come back from that.
All of that was, of course, only just round 1 – there are already two more upcoming races scheduled on February 7th and 14th respectively. Silverstone and Interlagos will be the virtual locations in question – so if you don’t have Valentine’s day plans yet, why not check out the race?