It was the ByKolles entry that qualified on pole position however, but a little over-eagerness at the start from pro driver Tom Dillmann put the team on the back foot. Dillmann started his charge a little too early, earning a penalty for a jump start. That put the E-Team WRT car, and driver Kelvin van der Linde, into an early lead. They then lost the lead to the Veloce Esports car driven by newly crowned Formula E virtual champion Stoffel Vandoorne after a connection issue.
The Team Redline entry had moved up to second at this point, while another fancied entry – that of double Le Mans-winner Fernando Alonso – was having less luck. A quirk of the rFactor 2 platform used all but ended the race for the car he shared with Rubens Barrichello, Olli Pakhala, and Jarl Teien.
After contact with Simona de Silvestro’s GTE Porsche, the stewards gave Alonso a penalty. However the penalty hit the car as Alonso was heading in for a routine pit stop, meaning the sim interpreted the stop as a penalty and wouldn’t allow him to take on any fuel. The car didn’t have enough to make it round another lap, and retired at the side of the road. A red flag caused by a glitch in the server itself just before the five-hour mark allowed Alonso’s car back into the race, but almost 70 laps down.
Redline took the race lead after the restart, trading places with the Veloce car, but then they too encountered issues. First Max Verstappen crashed heavily after losing connection, then team-mate Kerkhof also had connection issues, and the team retired the car. A second red flag in the latter half of the race allowed them to rejoin, but again too far down to make a difference.
That handed the lead to the Rebellion-Williams of Louis Deletraz, Raffaele Marciello, Nikodem Wisniewski, and Kuba Brzezinski, and for the final 12 hours the team barely looked back. Thanks to an alternate pit strategy, the ByKolles car seemed to be back in contention, but with a second Rebellion-Williams acting as a wingman the team was able to hold off the challenge.
Jernej Simoncic was quick in the final stints in the ByKolles, but finished second. Wisniewski took the win for Rebellion-Williams by a margin of just 18 seconds, and even appeared to run out of fuel on the cool down lap.
The racing in GTE was much more straightforward, with the pole-sitting #93 Porsche almost taking a lights-to-flag victory. Porsche took the first four places on the grid, and the Porsche team itself was on for a 1-2-3 but for driver change issues. The #93 of Nick Tandy, Ayhancan Guven, Josh Rogers, and Tommy Ostgaard took victory by over a lap from the Aston Martin of Richard Westbrook, Nicki Thiim, Lasse Sorensen, and Manuel Biancolilla. That also meant that Tandy is the only driver in the field to have won both the real and virtual races.
One other major esports event took place this weekend, with Formula One hosting the final Virtual Grand Prix. In what’s become a routine form book for these events, George Russell took the victory by 15 seconds in the Williams, from Red Bull’s Alexander Albon. With four wins from seven races Russell becomes the unofficial world champion – who’d have thought we’d be saying that when 2020 started?
Welcome to FOS Future Lab where we report on the latest visions of future technology. We'll be boldly covering flying cars, hoverboards, jetpacks and spaceships with plenty of down to earth topics in between.