Formula 1 is launching a Virtual Grand Prix Series to fill the gap left by postponed races caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused severe disruption to the motorsport community. F1 has been heavily affected with the opening seven races of the 2020 season either postponed or, in Monaco’s case, cancelled.
Organizers hoped the season would begin at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in June but it has since been postponed.
However, F1 bosses have moved to plug the racing void by launching a new Virtual Grand Prix Series that will be live-streamed to fans. Several current F1 drivers will compete and will be joined on the virtual grid by a “host of stars” yet to be confirmed.
The Virtual Grand Prix Series will be played out using a PC version of Codemasters’ F1 2019 game. The esports races will take place on the weekend of each postponed Grand Prix, beginning with the Virtual Bahrain Grand Prix on March 22.
The race around the Sakhir circuit will be 50% race distance (28 laps) and also include a qualifying session. Drivers will play remotely while F1 will stream the action across its official website and social media channels. The stream should last approximately 1.5 hours.
F1 fans in for a treat
Due to the differing level of skills that will be on show throughout the Virtual Grand Prix Series, game settings will be configured to encourage competitive and entertaining racing.
Unfortunately for the drivers, no FIA F1 World Championship points will be on offer. On non-race weekends, F1 will also be hosting esports exhibition races where fans will get the chance to compete against drivers.
The Virtual Grand Prix Series is one of many events fans can watch online over the coming weeks. On the back of a very successful ‘Not The Australian Grand Prix’, Veloce Sports will host a version of the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend.
McLaren driver Lando Norris featured in ‘Not The Australian Grand Prix’, which broke streaming records on Twitch on March 15.
Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and pro-golfer Ian Poulter will join Norris on the grid for #NotTheBahGP.