Several Formula 1 drivers will compete in the F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix series while their season is on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The first race will be Sunday’s Virtual Bahrain Grand Prix, and races will be held every corresponding race weekend. A qualifying session will determine grid positions, and the races will be 28 laps long — half the length of a real-life race.
F1 drivers are joining their NASCAR counterparts in virtual competition during their downtime from live racing. Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are among the NASCAR stars participating in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series.
The Virtual Grand Prix will give fans an opportunity to compete against the sport’s stars, with cars featuring the same performance and reduced vehicle damage to level the playing field between avid and casual gamers. The races will use Codemaster’s official Formula 1 2019 PC game.
“We are very pleased to be able to bring some light relief in the form of the F1 Esports Virtual GP, in these unpredictable times, as we hope to entertain fans missing the regular sporting action,” said Julian Tan, Formula 1’s head of digital business initiatives and sports. “With every major sports league in the world unable to compete, it is a great time to highlight the benefits of esports and the incredible skill that’s on show.”
The first race will be broadcast on the F1 YouTube, Twitch and Facebook channels as well as on F1.com at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday.
“The series is strictly for entertainment purposes, to bring racing action to fans in this unprecedented scenario the world has been affected by, with no official World Championship points up for grabs for the drivers,” the organization said.
F1 has postponed or canceled its races scheduled until at least May.
–Field Level Media