Formula 1 has confirmed that a number of virtual Grand Prix will be held, replacing races postponed so far this season.
With the first seven races of the Formula season called off due to COVID-19, racing is unlikely to get underway until June at the earliest, and with no real racing on the horizon, series bosses have decided to hold virtual races on the weekends where actual Grand Prix should have been taking place.
Last weekend there were two Esports events including a number of top line drivers, and both events were a major success, which has prompted Formula 1 to create its own races in order to maintain some presence.
No drivers or team have been confirmed yet, but the events will take place using the official Formula 1 2019 game created by Codemasters, and alternative circuits will be used for races that do no feature on the game, such as Vietnam.
A press release issued by Formula 1 said: “The virtual races will run in place of every postponed Grand Prix, starting this weekend with the Virtual Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday March 22.
“Every subsequent race weekend will see the postponed real-world Formula 1 race replaced with a Virtual Grand Prix*, with the initiative currently scheduled to run until May.
T”he series will use the official F1 2019 PC video game, developed by Codemasters, and the first virtual GP on the Sakhir track will be a 50% length race with 28 laps.
“The broadcast, which will be available on the official Formula 1 YouTube, Twitch and Facebook channels, is expected to run for 1 hour 30 minutes, with a qualifying period where grid positions will be determined based on the drivers’ fastest lap time.”
In order to guarantee the safety of all competitors, each driver will take part remotely, with a host broadcast live from the Gfinity Esports Arena from 8pm (GMT) on March 22.
All cars will run with equal performance and fixed set-ups to ensure there is a level playing field and due to the varied skill level among drivers, damage will be limited and competitors will have the option to use anti-lock brakes and traction control.
Formula 1’s Head of Digital Business Initiatives and Esports, Julian Tan said: “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.
“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.”