Courtois claims fastest lap in first Virtual Grand Prix of 2021
Thibaut Courtois claimed the first fastest lap award of the 2021 Virtual Grand Prix season as part of a spirited display that saw him star against some of Formula One’s brightest stars. Team-mate Jack McDermott (aka PieFace23) finished in P14 on his debut, after esports regulars, Daniel Bereznay and Thijmen Schütte, had finished the sprint race in P6 and P12.
Following the success of the inaugural Virtual Grand Prix season, brought in during the covid-enforced break at the beginning of 2020, the new format promised a unique mix of esports veterans, real-life racers and superstars to light up the pre-season weekends.
In the sprint race, used to define the feature race’s grid, Bereznay lined up in P5 on the grid, ahead of PS4 F1 Esports Challengers series leader Schütte in P12. A track-limit penalty demoted the Hungarian to P6 at the chequered flag, while his debutant team-mate managed to hold ground despite damage suffered in the opening stages.
In the feature race, Belgium international and Real Madrid keeper Courtois picked up where he left off at the start of 2020, running in the top positions as the lead runner on medium tyres. A spin after a collision with Benjamin Daly cost him a lot of time, but running deep into the race and switching to soft tyres in the final 14 laps saw him recover to P10 while also setting the fastest lap of the race, an impressive result in the circumstances.
McDermott showed really good pace throughout the race, despite paying the price of his relative inexperience by racking up some time penalties. He crossed the line in P14, not far from his team-mate – a result that augurs well for the remaining rounds.
Overall, both the pro and celebrity drivers had a great experience, with the team showing fantastic chemistry, speed and enjoyment, in keeping with the philosophy of this event – something we will aim to maintain for the rest of the series.