Sunday’s main event was everything but uneventful. From Leclerc’s debut win in Australian Virtual GP to Lando deleting the game. The Australian Virtual GP was a treat to watch especially for those who had to see it get canceled. Unlike the first virtual race that included only two current F1 drivers, the race held at the Albert Park had six. It was around a 90-minute-long show of cars racing in Melbourne.
If coronavirus pandemic had not arrived, we could be watching the Vietnam Grand Prix both in the game and outside of it. The reason for not hosting the race in Vietnam is because F1 2019 does not have the Hanoi street circuit in it. Developers also needed insight into the circuit before bringing the circuit into the virtual world. Since the race never happened, they gathered nothing on the circuit which caused the Hanoi Circuit to be replaced by the Albert Park.
Leclerc Wins on Australian Virtual GP Debut
Charles Leclerc was the king of the game on Sunday. He did not take part in the Bahrain Virtual Grand Prix, the first of the series. Naturally, fans thought of the worst possible scenario for him. To the surprise of literally everyone who was part of the event, Leclerc took the win. His performance was simply outstanding. Much like in real life, Ferrari was his constructor.
In defense of the rest of the players, Ferrari does have a good record, particularly, in Albert Park. So, it was kind of expected a Ferrari driver was going to win it. Sure, Leclerc is a great driver. But the suggestion here is not that Leclerc is an okay driver. Rather, the game might be knowing in advance that Albert Park is the preferred venue for Ferrari. This is F1 2019 we are talking about here which means the virtual environment must have taken into consideration the cars’ performances from the last two or three years at least. We know, except for 2019, Ferrari’s driver Sebastian Vettel won the Australian GP in 2017 and 2018. So, it should not be surprising who might have the greatest chance of winning the race in Australia again – a driver inside a Ferrari.
After the race was over, Leclerc had his thoughts gathered to talk about his experience in the simulation. To sum it up, the race had him “sweating like crazy!” As he further explained, it was really hard because everyone was quick, had a similar pace and the only way to come out of the race as a winner was to not make any mistakes.
Leclerc did put in lots of hours of practice since setting up the simulator a few days ago. Others who maybe lacked that practice failed to perform at Leclerc’s level. All in all, the race proved to be entertaining for the drivers and the audience. Leclerc, George, and Alex planned to arrive at the online event to entertain the fans who are staying at home during this tough period. He is looking forward to participating in the rest of the events as well. But it also depends on how Ferrari views these activities. Provided Leclerc keeps putting in performances like he just did at the Albert Park, there is little chance Ferrari is going to stop him from doing it over and over again.
F1 2019 Crashes Norris Out for the Last Time
In second came the Renault F2 driver Christian Lundgaard. He was the bigger name among big names during the entirety of the event. George Russell finished in third and was pretty happy about it. The one driver who did not look happy at all was Lando Norris. Prior to the race, Lando Norris was the biggest star on the grid. As soon as the race began, he was nowhere to be found. To his credit though, there was little he could do to keep his bad luck from entering the simulation. His bad luck stopped him from making a start.
The good news is he spent all that race-time talking to a good friend Max Verstappen who happens to share the same views about F1 2019 as Lando Norris does. Verstappen does not approve of the game, a sentiment often resonated among race fans. Lando was just another victim of the game’s poor performance when it mattered the most. Sadly, there is nothing F1 can do for now about the state of the game. They just renewed their contract with Codemasters that runs until 2025.
Overall, it was a sad situation because around 100,000 people were wanting to watch him race on Twitch online and all of a sudden, the game crashed. The sadder detail is that the stream was part of a fundraiser for charity.
Our global condition has put us in a position where we have to depend on developers like Codemasters. That is not to say they have done a bad job making the game. They just should have been better. They should have updated the game more. They should have fixed the game so that these tragedies do not happen at critical moments. There are hundreds of game developers around the world who can make this game playable. After the crisis is over, making a good simulation of the game should be their top priority. Only then we may get to see the likes of Max Verstappen and Lando Norris racing again in a Virtual Grand Prix.