Sergio Perez and Pierre Gasly will both make their debuts in the next Formula 1 Virtual Grand Prix held on the Baku City Circuit on Sunday.
The Racing Point and AlphaTauri drivers ensure there will be eight of F1’s current grid taking part, as their entries come at the same time that Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Ocon fail to return after making their respective debuts in the last event in Monaco. With Carlos Sainz also having entered one race, it means 11 of the 20 current drivers have all been a part of the initiative at some stage.
Perez and Gasly join the regular six of Charles Leclerc, Alex Albon, Lando Norris, Antonio Giovinazzi, George Russell and Nicholas Latifi for the Virtual Azerbaijan Grand Prix, taking place at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday. The race will air live on ESPN.
“I’m excited to give the Esports competition a go,” Perez said. “It’s definitely got people talking and, looking at the races, they’re very entertaining to watch – sometimes maybe even more so than the real thing! It’s really amazing to see what the top drivers are able to do and, of course, they are professionals in their own right, so we can’t expect to be on their level straight away. But to be honest, I’m really missing racing right now, so I’m just looking forward to getting back to competing and seeing what I can do.”
In terms of celebrity entries, soccer players Aymeric Laporte (Renault) and Gianluigi Donnarumma (AlphaTauri) will take part, while Albon will be partnered at Red Bull by the 2018 Dakar Rally-winning motorcyclist Matthias Walkner.
With the 2020 F1 season finally getting underway on July 5 in Austria, it has been confirmed that the Virtual Canadian Grand Prix on June 14 will be the final race of the series. F1’s head of Esports Julian Tan says he hopes the interest gained by the events will help the sport’s Esports offering moving forward.
“We are immensely proud of the Virtual Grand Prix series, which allowed us to bring Formula 1 to fans around the world, in a time when actual racing was not possible,” Tan said. “We are very grateful to the teams and drivers that have taken part in the series to date and look forward to ending the series with a bang in the coming weeks as we all gear up to kick off the 2020 Formula 1 World Championship season in Austria.
“Great momentum has been gathered as part of our Virtual Grands Prix Series and we are excited to build on this momentum in our Esports strategy going forward.”