The virtual racing series will include current drivers and ‘stars’
Formula One has launched the F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix to replace the races that it has had to postpone.
The virtual racing series will start at 8pm GMT on 22 March, the day when the Bahrain GP would have otherwise have gone ahead. It has been planned to go through until May, but could be extended if the coronavirus pandemic causes further postponements.
The first race of the competition will see current F1 drivers lining up alongside as yet unnamed stars – who will all join in remotely, with a host broadcast live from the Gfinity Esports Arena or also remotely if necessary. Coverage will go out to the F1 YouTube channel, Twitch and Facebook channels, as well as F1.com.
It will be played using the official F1 2019 PC video game, developed by Codemasters, and will be a 50% race of 28 laps expected to take one hour and thirty minutes with a qualifying period where grid positions will be decided by who completes the fastest lap time.
As the competitors have a wide range of video gaming skills, the difficulty settings will be configured to ensure competitive racing. This includes running equal car performance with fixed setups, reduced vehicle damage, and optional anti-lock brakes and traction control for those with less experience playing.
This news comes after McLaren driver Lando Norris broke F1 concurrent Twitch streaming records when taking part in the Veloce Esports Not the Aus GP event during what would have been the last race weekend.
He has been confirmed to be taking part in the Not the Bah GP race that follows that up, but it is unknown if he will be able to feature in both that and the official F1 competition as it is scheduled for 6pm GMT on Sunday – just two hours before the latter.