The COVID-19 Coronavirus has thrown much of the world into lockdown, causing all sporting events, including F1, to be cancelled or postponed. But, the clever chaps at Formula 1 have come up with a solution, a Virtual Grand Prix in Bahrain!
So, it's not the real deal, sure, but at least it's something! With a lineup of current and past F1 drivers, celebrities, sportsmen and esports stars, the Bahrain Virtual Grand Prix is loads of fun.
The idea is simple, get famous people, like golfer Ian Poulter and former superbike racer, Luca Salvadori to race against sim-racer, Jimmy Broadbent, ex-F1 stars, Johnny Herbert and Nico Hülkenberg. To make things interesting, current F1 driver Lando Norris and two Ferrari Academy drivers take up the challenge.
The 20 drivers get an 18-minute qualifying session, and then it's time to race! The F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix was streamed live on YouTube on 22 March 2020, obviously using ESports F1 2019 challenge mode, with all the drivers in their respective man-caves around the world. The commentators are in-studio in London, and it's all very professional and fun.
The race itself is a reduced race of 14 laps and, after qualifying the grid was as follows:
01 Philipp Eng, Red Bull – Pro racing driver
02 Esteban Gutierrez, Mercedes – Mercedes F1 reserve driver
03 Guanyu Zhou, Renault – Formula 2 driver
04 Nicolas Latif, Williams – Formula 1 driver
05 Nico Hülkenberg, Haas – Former Formula 1 driver
06 Luca Salvadori, Alphatauri – pro motorcycle racer
07 Dino Beganovic, FDA Hublot Esports Team – Ferrari Driver Academy
08 Robert Shwartzman, FDA Hublot Esports Team – Formula 3 champion
09 Matt Trivett, Alphatauri – Esports commentator
10 Paul Chaloner, Haas – Esports host
11 Stoffel Vandoorne, Mercedes – Mercedes F1 reserve driver
12 Anthony Davidson, Racing Point – Racer and F1 broadcaster
13 Aamir Thacker, Alfa Romeo – Streamer and content creator
14 Nicolas Hamilton, McLaren – Pro racing driver and brother of Lewis
15 Ian Poulter, Renault – Professional golfer
16 Johnny Herbert, Alfa Romeo – F1 broadcaster
17 Sir Chris Hoy, Red Bull – 7x gold medal olympian
18 Liam Payne, Williams – Singer-songwriter
19 Lando Norris, McLaren – Formula 1 driver
20 Jimmy Broadbent, Racing Point – Streamer and content creator
The COVID-19 coronavirus, as a global pandemic, has been devastating, so to have Formula 1 and Esports put on a show like this is truly incredible. It's also fantastic to see the interviews with the drivers and everyone just having fun.
The race itself is chaos and hilarious, so, it's time to hand you over to your hosts for the race, Tom Deacon, Jack Nichols, Alex Jakes and Matt Gallager for the first-ever Esports Virtual Grand Prix, held in Bahrain. Check out the action here.
These races are streamed live every two weeks, so be sure to check the schedules so you don't miss out.