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Russell, Latifi and Albon spearhead the return of F1 Virtual Grands Prix

Russell, Latifi and Albon spearhead the return of F1 Virtual Grands Prix

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Russell, Latifi and Albon spearhead the return of F1 Virtual Grands Prix

Russell, Latifi and Albon spearhead the return of F1 Virtual Grands Prix

George Russell, Nicholas Latifi and Alex Albon spearhead the line-up for the return of F1 Esports’ Virtual Grands Prix from this weekend.

Following its success last year during lockdown before the F1 season started in early July, the series returns with a trio of live events that this year has a $100,000 charity prize fund available.

After winning last year's series, Williams driver Russell will start the defence of his crown with this weekend's Virtual Austrian GP.

Russell will be joined on the grid by team-mate Latifi, as well as Albon, who has been demoted to test and reserve driver with Red Bull after losing his race seat to Sergio Perez.

Albon will be partnered by Red Bull KTM factory rider and MXGP world champion Jeffrey Herlings.

Pietro Fittipaldi, who made his Haas debut last season in Bahrain, will represent the American team in this weekend's race alongside brother Enzo, whilst former F1 drivers Stoffel Vandoorne and Tonio Luizzi will compete for Mercedes and AlphaTauri respectively.

Renault academy drivers Christian Lundgaard and reigning F3 champion Oscar Piastri will drive for Alpine, whilst Virtual Grand Prix regular and Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois returns for Alfa Romeo.

The primary focus of this year’s competition is to donate money to charities chosen by the teams.

Each nominated charity will receive a significant donation from the overall prize fund, regardless of whether the team finishes first or last in the standings after the three events.

This year’s Virtual Grand Prix events will begin with a sprint-race, featuring the team’s F1 Esports Pro Series drivers, to decide the starting grid, before the teams’ pairings compete in the feature race.

Silverstone and Interlagos will also play host to upcoming virtual races on February 7 and 14 respectively.

F1 head of digital business initiatives & esports Julian Tan said: "We are thrilled to be bringing the Virtual Grands Prix back to keep fans entertained during the off-season as we look forward to the year of racing ahead.

"Last year’s virtual events were a huge success for F1 Esports and we can’t wait to see the F1 drivers and famous faces back in action once again, and this time all in the name of charity.”

The Virtual Austrian Grand Prix will be broadcast from 6pm GMT on Sunday on the official F1 YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, Huya (China) and Weibo (China) channels, as well as broadcast by international television partners including Sky Sports, ESPN, FOX Sports and Ziggo.

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