When real-world motorsport went on hiatus during the first few months of lockdown, there were definite winners and losers as racing drivers took to virtual racing. Charles Leclerc, Alex Albon, Lando Norris and George Russell opened up F1 to a new legion of fans with their antics, the likes of Louis Deletraz and Scott McLaughlin bolstered their reputations, while others found their online behaviour left their own reputations in tatters. There was, however, one standout star for me. Step forward Emanuele Pirro – former teammate of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in his time at McLaren in the late 80s, five time Le Mans winner and, at 58, part of a different breed of racers. He’s not a driver you’d typically associate with the online generation.
“My experience with racing simulators, it belongs to the period after I retired,” Pirro tells me from inside Lamborghini’s headquarters, his experience extending to a few stints in a GP2 car on Dallara’s factory simulator as he helped dial in the new kit. “But I’m very interested in technology, very interested in the future, very willing to learn new things.”
Which might be how Pirro found himself lining up in The Race’s Legends Trophy, alongside the likes of Jenson Button, Juan Pablo Montoya and Emerson Fittipaldi. The best bit? While other drivers competed from the comfort of their expensive sim rigs, Pirro took part using nothing more than a dusty old Logitech G25 clamped to his office desk. And with that set-up, Pirro won.