To help make up for the lack of live F1 racing, Formula 1 will be running Virtual races on F1 2019 in their place.
Charles Leclerc won last time in Vietnam GP but with six other current F1 drivers on the grid, could the Ferrari man make it two wins in a row?
This weekend was meant to have the Chinese GP at the Shanghai International Circuit. However, this has been postponed indefinitely, as have the other first nine races of the 2020 season.
China has produced some dull races in the past but today's action was reminiscent of 2016's overtake-fest. If you missed it, here's what happened!
Virtual Chinese GP - Charles Leclerc makes it two in a row.
Hundreds of thousands of people around the world tuned into the streams online for qualifying.
Charles Leclerc made it back-to-back pole positions, pipping George Russell to top spot. The Williams driver would start in P7 though, thanks to a five-place grid penalty. Mercedes' Stoffel Vandoorne also suffered a similar fate and started in ninth.
Leclerc got away perfectly again but was closely followed by Red Bull's Alex Albon through the long corkscrew right-hander. Jimmy Broadbent of Racing Point got the best start of the field though, up from 18th to 9th at the conclusion of the first lap!
Albon would pass Leclerc during the first round of pit-stops, as those with soft tyres had to swap rubber. Just as in Vietnam though, Leclerc was the class of the field and got past his Thai rival on Lap 11 of 28.
Guanyu Zhou finished his home race on the podium in third thanks to a brilliant move on Lap 17. Zhou would later be re-passed but Vandoorne's multiple penalties dropped the Belgian to fifth, behind an angry George Russell.
Charles didn't put a wheel wrong all race, keeping Albon at arm's length in the closing stages to win his second Virtual GP in two starts. Leclerc is definitely the man to beat as we head to the first European leg of the virtual season.
A shout-out should also go to the coverage itself, with the official streams riding live on board with drivers during the race. A highlight of this was Renault's Ian Poulter while he was battling with Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi and the golfer's spin later in the race.
Carlos Sainz's race looked all but dead and burried after his first lap spin. However, the Spaniard ran long on his first stint and recovered to a brilliant P10 on his Virtual GP debut.
A very honourable mention has to go to Juan Manuel Correa as well. The American was involved in the horror crash that cost Anthoine Hubert his life back in August and seeing him race in any capacity is fantastic. He finished P14 and we hope to see him racing in Formula 2 again as soon as possible!
So it was Leclerc in P1, followed onto the podium by Albon and Zhou, but where did everyone else finish?
|1||Charles Leclerc||FDA Hublot Esports Team|
|2||Alex Albon||Red Bull Racing|
|8||Liam Lawson||Alpha Tauri|
|12||Callum Ilott||FDA Hublot Esports Team|
|13||Jimmy Broadbent||Racing Point|
|14||Juan Manuel Correa||Alfa Romeo|
|15||Thibaut Courtois||Red Bull Racing|
|16||Anthony Davidson||Racing Point|
|17||Ciro Immobile||Alpha Tauri|
|19 (DNF)||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo|
|20 (DNS)||Lando Norris||McLaren|
Social Media Reaction
Charles Leclerc has been a social media phenomenon while practicing for this race and was again heavily featured on #VirtualGP. The Monegasque was sporting a Ferrari polo shirt and a matching red bandana.
Another popular trend was the reaction to the lack of respect for track limits. Some of the drivers' lenient difficulty settings allowed for adventurous lines that you couldn't have seen in the actual Chinese GP:
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Lando Norris once again suffered connection issues and didn't start the race. This encouraged the internet to poke fun at the McLaren driver, with Planet F1 tweeting the pick of the bunch:
What's the next round?
The next round of the Virtual GP season will take place in two week's time. This time it will be the Dutch GP, which will more than likely be raced around Germany's Hockenheimring, due to Zandvoort not being available in F1 2019.