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F1 launches Esports Virtual Grand Prix series featuring real F1 drivers

F1 drivers will be taking part in an official F1 Esports Virtual Gran Prix series. (Source: Codemasters)
F1 drivers will be taking part in an official F1 Esports Virtual Gran Prix series. (Source: Codemasters)
If you’re an F1 fan, the postponement of all current F1 races until the end of May will be a hard pill to swallow. However, out of all the doom and gloom, F1 has announced that it will launch a new F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix series featuring “a number” of current F1 drivers which should make for some good entertainment.
Sanjiv Sathiah,

Sports fans all over the world are coming to grips with the reality of the cancellation or postponement of sporting events. However, F1 has decided to take a innovative approach to giving fans a little bit of what they have been missing following the cancellation of the Australian Gran Prix earlier this month and the cancellation or postponement of other grans prix until at least the end of May. F1 has announced the launch of a new F1 Esports Virtual Gran Prix series featuring “a number” of current F1 drivers which should prove to be a little bit of fun among all the doom gloom right now.

From the F1 press release:

The first race of the series will see current F1 drivers line up on the grid alongside a host of stars to be announced in due course. In order to guarantee the participants safety at this time, each driver will join the race remotely, with a host broadcast live from the Gfinity Esports Arena (or remotely if required) from 8:00pm (GMT) on Sunday March 22.

The 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.

Due to the wide variety of gaming skill levels amongst the drivers, game settings will be configured in such a way to encourage competitive and entertaining racing. This includes running equal car performance with fixed setups, reduced vehicle damage, and optional anti-lock brakes and traction control for those less familiar with the game.

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.

To add to the entertainment value, during non-race weekends fans from around the globe will be able to head-to-head with some of the same F1 drivers competing the Esports event. More information about how these events will be hosted will follow in the coming weeks across F1’s social media channels. While fans will be wondering about the potential for this concept to spread to other sports, there actually a number of F1 drivers who play video games like F1 2019 to familiarize themselves with tracks ahead of real-world events. This isn’t as likely to be the case with other non-racing sports, but would be fun to watch nonetheless don’t you think?

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Sanjiv Sathiah, 2020-03-21 (Update: 2020-03-22)
Sanjiv Sathiah
I have been tech-obsessed from the time my father introduced me to my first computer, an Apple ][. Since then, I have grown to enjoy exploring and experimenting with any computing platform that I can get my hands on – I am the definitive early adopter! I have always been interested in how we can use technology to shape and improve our lives, most recently using it to record, mix and master my debut record, Acuity – Nature | Nurture out now on Spotify.