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Virtual Grand Prix Series launched to replace postponed races

20 March 2020

Formula 1 has announced that it is launching a new F1 esports Virtual Grand Prix series to keep fans entertained despite the ongoing COVID-19 situation, which has led to the postponement of this season’s opening races.

The virtual rounds will run in the place of every postponed Grand Prix, and will feature a number of current F1 drivers. The first round will be the Virtual Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday 22nd of March and is slated to continue until May.

To ensure the drivers’ safety, they will join the races remotely, with a host broadcast live from the Gfinity Esports Arena. The series will use the official F1 2019 PC game, developed by Codemasters, and will be broadcast on the official F1 YouTube, Twitch and Facebook channels. The broadcast is expected to last around 1:30, including a qualifying period and a 50 per cent length race.

The games will be set up to offer close competition, and use equal performance cars and fixed setups, with reduced vehicle damage and optional traction control and anti-lock brakes for those less familiar with the game. It is strictly for entertainment purposes, with no official points up for grabs.

“We’re excited to be a part of the new F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix Series,” said Codemasters CEO Frank Sagnier. “With sporting events currently on hold around the world, it’s great that the official F1 video game can help fill the void by bringing together an exciting line-up of talent to race online during the postponed race weekends. It’s going to be competitive, action-packed, and a lot of fun for everyone involved.”

Julian Tan, F1’s head of digital business initiatives and esports, added: “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. 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.”

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