Renault Sport Academy driver Oscar Piastri finished in fifth position for Renault DP World F1 Team on his virtual F1 racing debut in the Formula 1 Virtual Grand Prix Series at the Baku City Circuit.
Competing against established F1 drivers and experienced virtual racers, Oscar turned in a strong qualifying performance to claim fifth on the grid. The 19-year-old Australian then launched from his starting spot and into turn one of the narrow streets of Baku, but a small collision and resulting spin demoted the reigning Formula Renault Eurocup champion down to tenth position.
Opting for a one-stop strategy like many in the field, Oscar was then required to pull off some impressive overtaking moves during the 26-lap virtual race and eventually was able to claw his way back to fifth place in the final classification.
His team-mate for the race French and Manchester City football star Aymeric Laporte experienced his first taste of virtual racing and finished in eighteenth place against a highly competitive field of current Formula 1 and junior drivers, as well as other celebrities.
In the professional race, Renault Vitality’s Nicolas Longuet finished in seventh place, after the Frenchman recovered from a difficult qualifying session. His team-mate, Fabrizio Donoso, finished fifteenth at the chequered flag.
Earlier in the evening, Oscar warmed up for his race with a dominant victory in the FIA Formula 2 virtual Feature race despite being a rookie in the field. His RSA team-mate Chinese driver Guanyu Zhou continued his fine form in virtual racing, taking third position in the sprint race.
Oscar Piastri: “I think my debut in virtual racing went pretty well and it was great to represent Renault DP World F1 Team. I got off to a good start with a win in the FIA Formula 2 Feature race earlier in the evening, and so I headed into the Virtual Grand Prix with some confidence. I was pleased with my start in this race considering I hadn’t done it before, but a small spin resulting from some contact in turn one meant I lost some ground. I then had to put in some good overtaking moves and keep a consistent pace to recover and finish strongly in fifth. Overall, I am pretty happy with my performance. Hopefully I get another chance to do one of these again, it was great fun.”
Aymeric Laporte: “That was an amazing experience and great fun to be a part of the Formula 1 Virtual Azerbaijan Grand Prix. I want to say thank you to Renault for making it happen and of course my teammate, Oscar Piastri. It was a shame I couldn’t finish the race properly, but I had a good time and it was fun to race against some of my fellow professionals and see how quick the Formula 1 drivers were on the game.”