Charles Leclerc says winning on his debut Formula 1 Virtual Grand Prix was “unbelievably hard” and the level of concentration needed matches an actual race.

The Ferrari F1 driver stepped up alongside his younger brother Arthur to form the Scuderia’s all-new line-up for the Virtual Vietnamese GP – run on Melbourne’s Albert Park track as the 2019 F1 video game doesn’t have the Vietnam track – and after inheriting pole position through a grid penalty for Renault’s Christina Lundgaard the Monegasque dominated the half-distance race to win by over 10 seconds.

Reacting to his debut win, beating the likes of fellow F1 drivers George Russell, Alexander Albon, Antonio Gionvinazzi (excluding Lando Norris who failed to start the race due to technical issues) plus ex-F1 stars Jenson Button, Stoffel Vandoorne and Johnny Herbert, Leclerc rated the difficulty in terms of skill and focus as equal to an actual race.

“Easy? Of course not, it was unbelievably hard, we are sitting on a chair so there is no the G Forces that we have in a real car but I am sweating like crazy. The muscles are not hurting but the concentration required means I am sweating a lot as I was trying very hard. It was a great race,” Leclerc said.

With minimal car damage as part of the race rules, the deciding factor came down to who could keep out of trouble and stay on track. Leclerc duly drove a flawless race, winning lights-to-flag to go from complete rookie to F1 Virtual GP winner in just over one week.

“They shouldn’t have done the mistakes! It was tough, everyone was very quick and I think we all knew before going into this race the one who would do the least mistakes would win because we are all very close in pace,” he explained. “So I am happy with that one.

“Eight days ago [I got the game], more or less, last Sunday and I put quite a lot of hours into it. I don’t know how much but basically at least five hours each day and towards the end of the week we decided to join together, George and Alex, and stream everything so it was good fun so we will continue to do that. “

“The competition is on and we felt the pressure in qualifying. I am happy, as they would be if they were in front of me, but it was part of the game and it was fun.

“Obviously it is a hard time for everyone staying at home so we will try our best to entertain everyone at home and hopefully that was the case tonight so we will try to do many more over the next few weeks.”

Leclerc also confirmed he hopes to be back in two weeks’ time to try to make it two wins in a row – if Ferrari opt to keep him in its driver line-up for the Virtual Chinese GP.

“I am not the team manager, I do not know if they will take me again but the result is good, so I hope they are happy with my result and they will take me again,” he said.

F1’s next Virtual GP – taking place when the equivalent race was schedule to run – is the Chinese GP on Sunday April 19.