Formula 1 drivers will still have the chance to compete on postponed race venues as part of an official esports series that will start with a virtual Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday.
Following the postponement of a number of rounds due to the coronavirus pandemic, the earliest the season will start is the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on June 7. In order to fill the gap, F1 has confirmed it will run virtual races in place of every postponed grands prix, starting this Sunday with a 50% distance Bahrain Grand Prix at 20:00 GMT (4 p.m. ET).
“A number of current F1 drivers” are stated to be involved, although none have been named as yet. Lando Norris has already signed up for Veloce’s ‘Not the Bah GP’ on Sunday but the two events don’t clash, as it is currently scheduled to take place at 18:00 GMT (2 p.m. ET). Max Verstappen also took part in ‘The Race All-Star Esports Battle’ last weekend and is due to compete in another round of the same event this Saturday.
The official F1 event will feature qualifying and the race, with game settings configured to encourage competitive racing between entrants of varying experience on the official “F1 2019” PC video game, developed by Codemasters. Current drivers will race against “a host of stars to be announced in due course,” while there will also be online exhibition races during non-race weekends to enable fans to compete with drivers.
Postponed rounds that aren’t currently available on F1 2019 — namely Vietnam and Zandvoort — will be replaced with an alternative grand prix.
“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,” F1 clarified.
Fans can watch the race live on F1’s official YouTube channel, as well as Twitch and Facebook.