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Leclerc absence leaves Russell as F1 virtual GP 'champion'

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Russian Grand Prix - Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia - September 29, 2019 Williams' George Russell in action during the race REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

LONDON (Reuters) - Williams driver George Russell has added an esports title to his resume after Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc withdrew from Sunday’s final virtual Formula One grand prix to focus on the simulated 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Sunday’s round of the unofficial series, put on to provide some entertainment after the COVID-19 pandemic halted Formula One’s real-life racing, is around the Canadian Grand Prix layout.

Russell, the 2018 Formula One Two champion who was unable to score a point with struggling Williams last season, has won the last three virtual races with all the drivers competing remotely from home.

He leads Leclerc by 22 points if the real life points system is applied.

Leclerc will be contesting the virtual Le Mans in a Ferrari sportscar entry, along with Alfa Romeo F1 driver Antonio Giovinazzi.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and McLaren’s Lando Norris are also in that online race as team mates.

Formula One said five regular F1 drivers will be in the virtual Canadian race, held on the day the postponed grand prix should have been held at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Apart from Russell they are Red Bull’s Alex Albon, Williams’ Nicholas Latifi, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas.

Gasly is also due to compete in the Le Mans event and looks set to attempt both.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge

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