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F1 season to continue in the virtual world


Formula 1 has announced the launch of a new Esports Virtual Grand Prix series, featuring a number of current F1 drivers.

The series has been created to enable fans to continue watching races virtually, despite the ongoing COVID-19 situation that has affected this season's opening race calendar.

The virtual races will run in place of every postponed Grand Prix, starting this weekend with the Virtual Bahrain Grand Prix. Every subsequent race weekend will see the postponed real-world race replaced with a Virtual Grand Prix, with the initiative currently scheduled to run until May.

Grands Prix not available in the 2019 official F1 video game will be replaced with an alternative venue, while the Esports Virtual GP initiative will be extended beyond May if the pandemic results in further Grand Prix cancellations/postponements.

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. In order to guarantee the participants safety at this time, each driver will join the race remotely, with a host broadcast live from the Gfinity Esports Arena (or remotely if required) from 8:00pm (GMT) on Sunday March 22.

The series will use the official F1 2019 PC video game, developed by Codemasters, and the first virtual GP on the Sakhir track will be a 50% length race with 28 laps. The broadcast, which will be available on the official Formula 1 YouTube, Twitch and Facebook channels, is expected to run for 90 minutes, with a qualifying period where grid positions will be determined based on the drivers' fastest lap time.

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

On non-race weekends, Formula 1 will host online exhibition races, where fans from around the world will be given the chance to go head-to-head with F1 drivers. More details of these events will be available in the coming weeks.

The move follows Esports races held over the Melbourne weekend, which saw Max Verstappen and Lando Norris take part, the Red Bull driver finishing 11th in the 'All-star Esports battle', while the McLaren driver was sixth in the 'Not the Aus GP' organised by Veloce Esports.

"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," said Julian Tan, Head of Digital Business Initiatives and Esports. "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."

"We're excited to be a part of the new series," added Frank Sagnier, Chief Executive Officer, Codemasters. "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."

"Gfinity is proud to be playing its part in the design and delivery of the series," said John Clarke, Gfinity Chief Executive Officer, "which will bring exciting virtual racing to a legion of Formula 1 and Esports fans around the globe.

"The virtual Bahrain GP will feature all the thrills and spills of racing with F1 drivers and special guest celebrities going head-to-head, which promises to put a smile back on the faces of millions of sports fans."


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1. Posted by Editor, 21/03/2020 22:48 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 21/03/2020 22:50)

"@ Uffen

Words fail me...

Then again, it's not the first time you've found nits to pick."

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2. Posted by Uffen, 21/03/2020 22:45 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 21/03/2020 22:50)

""The Season" as in the headline is very misleading. No, the "season" will not start, or continue, using video game systems and a portion of the 2020 drivers, as well as unknown celebrities. To suggest so in the headline is absurd.
Sorry to pick a nit, but it reduces Pit Pass' status."

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3. Posted by Chris Roper, 21/03/2020 14:48


Yes I am for real but I think you missed my intent.

All of the teams have simulators that feature all of the characteristics of the real car and have detailed simulations of all of the tracks.

All of the F1 drivers have used and do use those simulators extensively and would probably be comfortable performing setup and then racing an actual GP Race.

Whilst they would initially be difficult to network as they are largely proprietary there are several Sponsor Partners that specialise in Networking, Communications and Cloud Integration and are perfectly placed to solve such problems.

Whilst I aplaude the the youngsters like Max and Lando who came up with the idea over the Australian weekend very few of the F1 Drivers actually play the computer game. As a result codemasters have jumped on the idea as a marketing opportunity and whilst two or three of the junior F1 drivers will play the main pack will be composed of Pro Gamers and not F1 Drivers.

On the other hand if the Simulators were networked then each teem could have entered at least one actual F1 driver for a Virtual, non championship Race.

Yes, for real..........
Maybe it will be in place for the next time force majeure threatens an event or a season.
The technology in there as is the expertise.........

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4. Posted by Lakota, 21/03/2020 14:27

"This is what the sport will be like in 10 years or so. "

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5. Posted by Steve W, 21/03/2020 8:45

"Has anyone ever tried this? Pick up a Playstation, a copy of F1 2019, spend $1,500 or so on a decent race seat and steering wheel/pedal set and give it a try. It's not easy..."

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6. Posted by imejl99, 20/03/2020 15:11 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 21/03/2020 22:50)

"@Chris Roper, They should have had....

Are you for real? Take it or leave it, but some appreciation for effort? No... ?"

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7. Posted by Chris Roper, 20/03/2020 14:14

"They should have had all the team simulators hooked up and have the F1 drivers race in those rather than a PC game. "

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