Renault DP World F1 Team finished in fourth and sixth positions for the final race of the F1 Virtual Grand Prix series in Canada with the Renault Sport Academy driver line-up of Caio Collet and Guanyu Zhou racing from the team’s UK base in Enstone.
Caio, who was making his debut in the Virtual Grand Prix series surrounded by seasoned gaming veterans, immediately got to grips with the 4.3km circuit in Montreal and turned in an impressive qualifying performance to claim fifth on the grid.
The 18-year-old Brazilian followed up his strong one-lap pace with a clean start to the race and opted for a two-stop strategy. Caio ran into some trouble during his second stint when lapping backmarkers, but quickly moved on from this minor setback and climbed to fourth place by the chequered flag.
Zhou racing in his third Virtual Grand Prix - having previously secured a win at the inaugural race in Bahrain and a podium in his home race in China – found himself slightly hampered by an early technical glitch at the start of the race, which demoted the Chinese driver a few places from his original starting position of sixth.
Zhou used all his experience in virtual racing to overcome these issues, and unlike many of his competitors opted for a one-stop strategy in the race switching to the harder compound tyres. He completed 26-laps in total on these tyres and was able to bring the car home in sixth position.
The Virtual Grand Prix series has seen Renault DP World F1 Team field multiple driver line-ups across the eight-race calendar and rack up three podiums and one win. These have included race driver Esteban Ocon, five of the six 2020 Academy drivers, former Formula E driver Nico Prost, as well as Manchester City star Aymeric Laporte, golfing legend Ian Poulter, and former World Rally Champion Petter Solberg.
In the earlier Exhibition race, Fabrizio Donoso secured tenth place and Nicolas Longuet eighteenth on a soaking wet Montreal circuit, as the professionals continued their preparations for the new season.
Caio Collet: “It was a good result especially for my first Virtual Grand Prix! I thought my qualifying could have been a little better actually, but in the race I got a clean start and had a strong first stint where I was fighting with the guys ahead, which was fun. On my second stint on the medium tyres I hit a backmarker and spun from that, so my fight for the podium was over, but I was able to recover well and finish in fourth. It was fun to race from Enstone and have Zhou beside me for the race.”
Guanyu Zhou: “It was a tough race for me. There was a lot of potential from qualifying and I felt I could have been nearer the top. Then during the first few laps of the race, I had a technical issue with the game, so I lost some ground. After that it was smooth, and I opted for the one-stop strategy, which meant I had to battle some heavy tyre wear towards the end and sixth place wasn’t too bad. I would like to thank Renault DP World F1 Team for the opportunity to enter three races in total over the series, I had some good races, especially looking back to Bahrain and China and it was really fun.”