News: Formula 1 Puts Social Distancing Into Practice And Goes Virtual

Formula 1 Puts Social Distancing Into Practice And Goes Virtual

James Gent By James Gent
March 20, 2020
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Formula 1 has today launched F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix, an online racing series that will run in place of every postponed or cancelled Grand Prix to provide F1 fans with races to watch.

Kicking off this weekend with a ‘virtual’ Bahrain Grand Prix, the F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix pits competitors against each other online using the official F1 2019 video game. Alongside “a host of stars to be announced in due course” – read ‘influencers’ – the virtual series will also feature current F1 drivers. Though a full entry list has yet to be confirmed, McLaren driver Lando Norris and Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen, both keen iRacers, are likely to be high on the list.

In order to keep the competition tight, and to avoid a proven Grand Prix winner stuffing his rivals on the virtual track, “game settings will be configured in such a way to encourage competitive and entertaining racing.” Given that social distancing is being heavily encouraged during the coronavirus pandemic, each participant will sign in and race remotely.

After the inaugural round featuring the Bahrain International Circuit this weekend, similar online races will presumably also be organized to replaces the postponed Dutch and Spanish Grand Prix, as well as the cancelled race at Monaco. With Vietnam unavailable on ‘F1 2019’, an alternative venue will be used.

All rounds of the F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix will be broadcast on the official Formula 1 YouTube, Twitch and Facebook channels, as well as F1.com, with this weekend’s virtual Bahrain Grand Prix kicking off at 8:00pm GMT – 11am Pacific – on Sunday March 22. The race will run 28 laps, half the distance of the actual race.

“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,” explains Julian Tan, Head of Digital Business Initiatives and Esports. “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.”

This new initiative also comes just one day after all F1 teams agreed to postpone new sporting and technical regulations, due to come into effect in 2021, until 2022.

*Images courtesy of Formula 1 and Codemasters

Tags F1/ Formula 1
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