Charles Leclerc beat Formula 1 rival Alex Albon to claim his second straight Virtual Grand Prix series victory at the Chinese Grand Prix.

After securing his first outright pole position, Leclerc, who won on his F1 Esports debut last time out at the Vietnam Virtual Grand Prix held at Melbourne’s Albert Park street circuit, had to repass Albon on track to maintain his 100 percent winning record.

Albon moved into a net lead after successfully leapfrogging Leclerc with an undercut strategy, having pitted a lap before the Ferrari driver, but Leclerc fought back on Lap 11 following a brilliant scrap.

Leclerc divebombed Albon down the inside at Turn 1 and the pair continued to bang wheels as they ran side-by-side through Turn 2, before Leclerc got his nose ahead coming out of Turn 3 to reclaim a lead he never again relinquished.

The Monegasque held his nerve for the remainder of the 28-lap race around the Shanghai International Circuit to resist Albon and take his second virtual win of 2020 amid a suspension to real-world racing due to the ongoing global COVID-19 crisis.

On his return from winning the opening round in Bahrain, Renault test and reserve driver Guanyu Zhou took advantage of a time penalty for Stoffel Vandoorne to seal a home podium by completing the rostrum in third.

Fourth place went to Williams driver George Russell, who was left to rue a grid penalty for what he claimed to be “for no reason” after setting the second-fastest time in qualifying.

With his time penalty applied, Vandoorne dropped from third on the road to fifth, leading home Mercedes teammate Esteban Guttierez and the Haas of Louis Deletraz.

Red Bull junior and Formula 3 driver Liam Lawson enjoyed a strong race on his Virtual Grand Prix debut to finish eighth, ahead of Nicholas Latifi, who pipped debutant Carlos Sainz late on to snatch ninth spot. The Spaniard impressively recovered from a first-lap spin to round out the final ‘points-paying’ position for McLaren.

Pietro Fittipaldi was 11th in the second Haas and finished over a second and a half clear of Ferrari’s Callum Ilott and Racing Point’s Jimmy Broadbent, who had a relatively lonely run to 13th ahead of Juan Manuel Correa.

Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois came out on top in the battle of the footballers as he finished 15th for Red Bull, beating Anthony Davidson in the second Racing Point and Lazio forward Ciro Immobile in the AlphaTauri.

Golf legend Ian Poulter propped up the order in 18th place for Renault, while Antonio Giovinazzi failed to take the chequered flag and server issues prevented McLaren’s Land Norris from competing altogether for the third race in a row.