F1 to hold virtual races in place of postponed grand prixs

22 March 2020 - 00:00 By Reuters
F1 has gone digital.
F1 has gone digital.

Formula One drivers will join video gamers in virtual grands prix to replace races postponed by the coronavirus outbreak.

The first, run on the official F1 2019 PC video game, will be held from 10pm SA time today when fans should have been tuning in on television to the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The virtual race will be over 28 laps, half the usual distance of the real one under the Sakhir floodlights.

"Every subsequent race weekend will see the postponed real-world Formula One race replaced with a Virtual Grand Prix," Formula One said in a statement.

The Esports Virtual Grand Prix Series will run until May. The season-opening Australian and showcase Monaco grands prix have been cancelled along with races in Bahrain, Vietnam, China, the Netherlands and Spain.

The season is not due to start until the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on June 7, at the earliest.

"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," said Formula One, whose existing esports world championship starts later in the year.

"In order to guarantee the participants safety at this time, each driver will join the race remotely, with a host broadcast live from (London's) Gfinity Esports Arena." The broadcast will be available on the official Formula One YouTube, Twitch and Facebook channels and is expected to run for 90 minutes with qualifying to set the grid positions.

"Due to the wide variety of gaming skill levels among the drivers, game settings will be configured in such a way to encourage competitive and entertaining racing," Formula One added.

"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."

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