The streets of Baku have produced some sensational Formula 1 races over the years, and it delivered an entertaining show once again in the Virtual Azerbaijan Grand Prix, delivered by Gfinity.
With chaos and collisions always likely around the fast and narrow streets, a good qualifying performance would be critical to success.
It was George Russell who took pole, with a lap that was just seven tenths slower than David Tonizza’s pole position time in the F1 Esports Pro Exhibition Race earlier in the day.
The Williams driver was in imperious form as he commanded the race from the front and sprinted away from Red Bull’s Alex Albon.
Further down the field there were lap one issues. Charles Leclerc and the debuting Pierre Gasly tangled into turn two, causing several drivers to lose positions. Leclerc’s teammate Enzo Fittipaldi caused a pile-up into the narrow castle section, ending the hopes of a strong race for the FDA Hublot Esports Team before the race really got going.
With a detached midfield and the blistering pace set by Russell, it was a matter of maintaining concentration for many in the higher positions and consolidating their spot.
Albon claimed yet another podium position, with Esteban Gutierrez finishing third in the Mercedes, followed by Lando Norris in the McLaren.
Norris’ teammate, the debuting YouTuber Ben Daly aka Tiametmarduk, was a surprisingly low eighth after being slowed by both first-lap incidents. Gasly and Sergio Perez, who was also debuting, ended up finishing outside the points.