Norris’s feat was of course accomplished virtually, as part of the wide-ranging programme of digital race activities that have been filling in for real-world motorsports these past few weeks. The McLaren driver is a seasoned sim-racer, picking up accolades in the virtual world long before he took the wheel of an F1 car, and proved it again at the weekend.
Making his debut in the IndyCar iRacing Challenge, Norris took pole position at the Circuit of the Americas – a track which also features on the F1 calendar – and converted it into a victory, despite some challenges on the way. The race was in fact an Arrow McLaren 1-2, with Norris’s team mate and IndyCar pro Patricio O’Ward finishing 1.4s back.
That win also means Norris qualifies for the final round of the series next weekend at Indianapolis. It’s the track at which McLaren and Alonso famously attempted to win the Indy 500 in 2017 and 2019 – with very mixed results.
While the current McLaren driver was enjoying COTA, ex-McLaren drivers were proving the form of the field at the Nürburgring. Once again, Jenson Button took a lights-to-flag win in the Legends Trophy, leading Juan Pablo Montoya and Jan Magnussen home to make it a 1-2-3 of former McLaren drivers. After a difficult weekend at Lime Rock Park, 2003 WRC champion Petter Solberg won the reversed-grid race this weekend, though the result came after the stewards handed out a few penalties.
Jeff Gordon’s virtual NASCAR debut didn’t end quite so well as Norris’s IndyCar bow. The NASCAR legend entered the race at Talladega – an event he’s won on six different occasions in the real world – but was unceremoniously ejected into the catch fencing following a crash between Ty Dillon and Ricky Stenhouse. Alex Bowman, who drives for Hendrick Motorsport, which Gordon co-owns, took the race win.
Formula E officially launched its Race at Home Challenge this weekend too, but it was Maximilian Guenther who won around the streets of Hong Kong, just as he had at Monaco during the previous weekend’s test race. The Formula E race also includes an event for sim racers, with Joshua Rogers winning the race for Porsche – the brand’s first ever Formula E win.
Another event making a debut this week was the SRO’s E-Sport GT Series. The event’s Pro Series, made up of professional racers, saw Bentley driver Jordan Pepper take the win, just as he did at Bathurst in February. Meanwhile the Silver Series, for seasoned sim racers, Italy’s Patrick Selva lead home a podium entirely composed of McLaren 720S entries.