George Russell says he feels a “bit of duty” to provide entertainment for Formula 1 fans by competing in online sim races during the coronavirus-related hiatus.

The Williams driver has taken part in a number of Esports series amid a suspension to the 2020 F1 season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including in three of F1’s four official Virtual Grand Prix rounds.

Russell secured his best result to date with a second-place finish behind Red Bull’s Alex Albon in a thrilling Virtual GP at Interlagos on Sunday evening. Russell, Albon, Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris have been the most active online racers during the enforced break.

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“I feel a bit of duty as such to provide a bit of entertainment for the F1 fans,” Russell told the F1 Nation Podcast.

“We’ve got these amazing, loyal fans out there who have nothing to support and if we can provide a bit of entertainment with Esports stuff or anything we are doing online with streaming and they appreciate and enjoy it, then that’s great.”

And Russell says competing in Esports has altered the relationship with his fellow F1 drivers for the better during a rare move away from their usual competitive nature as rivals on real-world tracks.

“There are about six of us, myself, Charles, Alex, Lando, Nicholas [Latifi] and Antonio [Giovinazzi], our relationship has grown a little since Esports has come along, especially myself, Alex and Charles,” he explained.

“We’ve always been friends but we’re talking everyday at the moment. It’s a different dynamic from being competitors. Me and Alex are best mates so it’s always been different with me and him.

“But for the rest of us, we’re obviously competitors so it’s not normally natural to have this sort of relationship with these guys, but it’s been good.”