Klaas van Snelheid returned to the top step of the podium for the 100th race of Formula Virtual. The Dutchman started 2nd and lost out to Tumo Kinnumen who was on the supersofts, but he overtook pole sitter Puccio Giodano and beat Kinnumen who had to do another stop and was held up by Judson Sikes while he was closing in on van Snelheid. He had a last-minute scare however, with Oleksandr Zozulya and Sebastian Vocquelin spinning in front of, breaking his front wing with over a lap to go. He stayed out and completed the last lap without his front wing though, ahead of Kinnumen. Will Hoskins was set to come second with an inspiring strategy call, but also was caught up in the incident and lost his front win, leaving him third.
Giodano kept the lead at the start, but Kinnumen sprinted past van Snelheid for second. Adrien Simon tried to overtake his teammate Allar Kangur for fourth into Eau Rouge but had to back off, allowing Nathaniel Powers to slipstream and pass the championship leader into Les Combe. Nikolai Milkovich also was on the move in his first race back in the series, passing Jean Mattson and teammate Enrique Ruiz. Hoskins was the biggest loser from the start, falling to 14th from 11th, while Finn Schnyder’s race ended early after driving into the wall on the straight between La Source and Eau Rouge. Kinnumen used the grip of his supersoft tyres to pass Giodano into the bus stop chicane for the lead and started to build up a gap. Simon attempted to pass Powers into Eau Rouge but again he failed. Powers went defensive on the Kemmel straight and Simon followed him to the inside, allowing Milkovich to slingshot himself around the outside of both drivers.
Giodano’s lack of pace began to come clear as Kangur and Milkovich caught up to him and van Snelheid. Klaas passed Giodano at Les Combes on lap 3, while Simon did likewise on Powers. Carson Davenport was another driver who was clawing his way up the grid, breaking into the top ten on lap 4. Over the next three laps he passed Jean Mattson, Ruiz and Powers. On lap 8, James Vasquez was spun by Hoskins at Les Combes. He tried to rejoin but got beached on the kerbs. Sergio Alvarez couldn’t see the Ingram until after the apex and had nowhere to go apart from into the Ingram. Vasquez’s car flipped over but landed the right way up while Alvarez lost his front wheel. Both drivers were thankfully unhurt.
Kinnumen, Davenport, Powers and Beyer all made their first stops on lap 10, leaving them on four stop strategies. Davenport rejoined behind Powers, while Kinnumen was now sixth ahead of Mattson who passed Ruiz, who made his stop on lap 11, drifting into the final corner due to no grip. Just as he was in the pits, Kangur finally overtook Giodano, strangely on the inside into Les Combes, displaying the problems Giodano had. Van Snelheid and Giodano became the first soft runners to pit on lap 13, leaving them on three stop races. The Downton came out six seconds behind Kinnumen while Giodano was just ahead of Powers. Kangur came in the next lap along with Mattson, but Milkovich and Simon (who was stuck behind the Russian) managed to go another lap longer and pit on lap 15. Much like Ruiz, they drifted through the bus stop without any grip, and Simon couldn’t hold on, spinning and losing a few seconds.
Powers passed Giodano at Les Combes, meaning by now Kinnumen led from van Snelheid, Hoskins (yet to make his first stop), Kangur, Milkovich, Powers, Giodano, Simon who’s spin provided costly in terms of position, Mattson and Davenport, while Ruiz was 12th after traffic immediately after his pit stop like Davenport. Simon began trying to claw back his lost time, passing Giodano, while behind Davenport overtook Mattson for 9th. Kinnumen made his second stop on lap 19 and came out in third, just ahead of Kangur but 16 seconds behind van Snelheid. Powers and Davenport were in a lap later, coming out 10th and 11th. It was obvious that Holmqvist wanted to get Hoskins to pit on lap 22 to put him on a one stopper and suddenly make him the strongest candidate for the race win, but on lap 21 his tyres cried enough, and he boxed, coming out in 7th.
Ruiz also pitted and re-joined outside of the points, while Simon passed Milkovich at Les Combes. Van Snelheid was in for pit stop number 2 on lap 26, by which time Kinnumen had the gap down to 12 seconds, while Giodano came out behind Powers. Kangur pitted the next lap along with Mattson, with the Estonian having a modest buffer to Powers but quite a long way behind Hoskins. Giodano seemed to finally have found his mojo, getting into Powers’ slipsteam down the Kemmel straight and overtaking him on the inside. Powers used his supersofts to stay wheel to wheel with the Italian down to Rivarge, where Giodano backed off and Powers kept 7th. Simon and Milkovich pitted on the next lap, the Frenchman remaining behind Kangur and Russian not too far ahead of Powers after they returned the track.
The flurry of pit stops continued as Kinnumen came in on lap 29. He came out 10 seconds behind van Snelheid and two behind Hoskins, with all having one stop left. The Fin began to fly however (not literally) and by the end of lap 30 he had brought the gap to Klaas down to 7 and a half seconds and passed Hoskins on the exit of Campus while the Holmqvist was held up by backmarkers. Powers and Davenport made their third stops (though it felt like 100 by this point) together, with the Briton now in 9th and Davenport back in 11th. Ruiz boxed the next lap and came back out ahead of Mattson, just. By now backmarkers were coming into play, with Dmytro Kovalenko holding up Kangur, allowing Simon to get close until he himself was held up by the AMR driver. Up front the gap between Klaas and Tumo was now just 5 seconds with 9 laps to go.
Kinnumen kept on pushing and pushing, with 3 second between them with 7 more laps on Spa. Sikes didn’t help van Snelheid out when he was lapped and now Kinnumen was within two seconds of his opponent. But that was as close as he would get to him at that point because for then next 7 kilometres Sikes made it his mission to hold up Kinnumen. By the end of lap 39 Kinnumen had lost a massive 7 seconds to van Snelheid and was now behind Hoskins who passed him at Blanchlimont. Both Ocelot cars pitted for the final time at the end of lap 39, with Kinnumen back in 6th and Giodano now 9th. Things got worse for Kinnumen when Milkovich held him up for even longer, wreaking his new tyres. Van Snelheid and Kangur were next to pit and the Dutchman exited with a comfortable lead over Kinnumen. As the rest of the top ten pitted, the order with two laps to go was van Snelheid, Hoskins, Kinnumen, Kangur, Simon, Giodano, Milkovich, Powers, Ruiz and Mattson.
It seemed inevitable that van Snelheid would win but along came Downton's best friend Sebastien Vocquelin. The Frenchman banged wheels with van Snelheid when the Dutchman tried to lap him which allowed Zozulya past the Dutchman to fight with the Meteor. By the time the trio had reached Campus Hoskins had closed the gap to the leader to three seconds from the eight it was when he exited the pits less then a lap a go. Zozulya threw his car up the inside of Vocquelin and they collided, spinning both drivers around. Van Snelheid tapped the Meteor as he tried to make his way past, costing him his front wing. Hoskins came flying onto the scene, all of a sudden with a chance to win, but Vocquelin had other idea, driving into the Holmqvist and breaking it's front wing. Kinnumen nipped past Hoskins, but both the Briton and van Snelheid decided to stay out for the final lap and complete it minus their front wings.
It turned out to be the right decision as neither lost any time. Van Snelheid crossed the line to take his ninth win in his team's 100th race. Kinnumen took second with the fastest lap, but he was disappointed not to have won. Hoskins took a well earned podium on his 100th race, with Holmqvist pulling off a strategic masterstroke. Kangur and Simon were fourth and fifth for Mathershaw, though there were questions over why both cars weren't swapped over to maximize Simon's points tally. Giodano was bemused sixth after his horrible first stint, while Milkovich was content with seventh on his Franklin debut. Powers and Ruiz were disappointed with eight and ninth while Mattson was tenth to collect Ingram's 580th point.
See the full race below: