With the start of the F1 season abruptly cancelled just hours before the teams were set to send cars out on track around Albert Park in Australia, and no clear idea of when the season might be able to get underway with a shortened schedule, the powers that be in Formula 1 have searched for ways to fill the void.
They’ve taken a two-pronged approach to pass the time, where they’ve started to stream classic races in full each weekend, as well as turning to the esports capable video game F1 2019. This weekend sees the second F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix taking place on Sunday night, featuring five of the young stars of the sport racing against a motley crew of other racers and celebrities.
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 2, 2020
Translated to British Summer Time, the Virtual Grand Prix will be taking place on Sunday 5th April at 8PM. It will feature a single qualifying session that then leads into a 28 lap race around F1 2019’s rendition of the Australian Grand Prix. It’ll be streamed on YouTube, Twitch, and also broadcast on international TV with F1’s regular partners. Yup, it’ll be on the Sky Sports F1 channel.
While the first VGP took place on the Bahrain circuit on the race weekend that the Bahrain GP would have taken place, F1 2019 doesn’t feature the Hanoi, Vietnam circuit that would have been used for this weekend. Why? Well, it’s because Hanoi was going to be a new race on the calendar for 2020 and, uh, the F1 2020 game isn’t ready yet.
But still, there’s plenty of reasons to tune into the VGP, because it will feature young up and coming stars of the sport Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), Alex Albon (Red Bull), George Russell (Williams), Lando Norris (McLaren) and Nicholas Latifi (Williams). Alongside them will be other sporting stars like cricketer Ben Stokes and other less experienced racers.
Lando in particular has a reputation for taking part in esports on his time off. Max Verstappen does as well, but he doesn’t stream and isn’t taking part. In fact, they’ve teamed up for online races in the past.
Lando was actually raring to go for the first race, his own stream picking up tens of thousands of followers, which might have been fun for a while… but not when it led to his game crashing during qualifying, forcing him to start from the back of the grid, and then crashing during the race as well. Still, he managed to rejoin the lobby, and the AI had done a bang up job of avoiding the inevitable first corner carnage.
Catch the highlights of that first race here: