COVID-19 is changing the world as we know it, from sport and entertainment, to work and family life. Following the massive success of the racing Esports streams last weekend, Formula 1 has been quick to seize on the opportunity, announcing that this would become a regular occurrence in establishing the new F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix series.
The official announcement details “virtual races will run in place of every postponed Grand Prix, starting this weekend with the Virtual Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday March 22. Every subsequent race weekend will see the postponed real-world Formula 1 race replaced with a Virtual Grand Prix*, with the initiative currently scheduled to run until May**. 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.”
It will certainly be interesting to see which real drivers sign up apart from the regulars being Lando Norris and Max Verstappen. “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 1 hour 30 minutes, with a qualifying period where grid positions will be determined based on the drivers’ fastest lap time.” We’ll be keeping up with the news on Team VVV and embedding the video, so do watch this space.
Given that some drivers will be famous YouTubers or various players from the world of entertainment or sport, F1 has acted as a leveller to let players use the assist they need. “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.” Great, this will bring the players together, general public have no chance against the seasoned Esports pro’s.
Formula 1 are keen to note that “The series is strictly for entertainment purposes, to bring racing action to fans in this unprecedented scenario the world has been affected by, with no official World Championship points up for grabs for the drivers.” Let’s have some fun and enjoy some action and potentially ludicrous racing.
But that’s not all “During non-race weekends, Formula 1 will also be hosting 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 across the official Formula 1 social media channels in the coming weeks.” Team VVV will do our best to keep you all updated.
Supporting this announcement Julian Tan, Head of Digital Business Initiatives and Esports said: “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.”
While Frank Sagnier, Chief Executive Officer, Codemasters added: “We’re excited to be a part of the new F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix Series. 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.”
John Clarke, Gfinity Chief Executive Officer said: “Gfinity is proud to be playing its part in the design and delivery of the F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix series, 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.”
*Grands Prix not available in the 2019 official F1 video game will be replaced with an alternative Grand Prix.
Let’s hope this is the start of something new to support the world of F1, it would be great to see as many of the drivers as possible coming together to support this sport and bring some light-hearted relief to their fans during this challenging period. Team VVV will do our best to cover it where possible.