F1 to hold virtual races in place
of postponed grands prix
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[March 21, 2020]
By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One drivers
will join video gamers and others in a series of virtual grands prix
to replace a swathe of races postponed by the coronavirus outbreak,
the sport announced on Friday.
The first, run on the official F1 2019 PC video game, will be held
from 2000GMT this Sunday -- a day when fans should have been tuning
in to watch the real life Bahrain Grand Prix.
The virtual race will be over 28 laps, half the real distance.
"Every subsequent race weekend will see the postponed real-world
Formula One race replaced with a Virtual Grand Prix," Formula One
said in a statement.
The Esports Virtual Grand Prix Series will run until May. Other
cancelled or postponed races still to come include Vietnam, China,
the Netherlands, Spain and Monaco.
"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,"
said Formula One, whose existing esports world championship starts
later in the year.
Participants will compete remotely with a broadcast available on
Formula One's YouTube, Twitch and Facebook channels. It is expected
to run for 90 minutes, including qualifying.
"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," Formula One added.
"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."
Online exhibition races, allowing fans to go head-to-head with real
F1 drivers, will be held on non-GP weekends.
"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, Formula One's head of Esports.
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Esports driver for Renault Sport Team smiles. Picture taken November
25, 2019. REUTERS/John Sibley
"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 thatís on show."
Interest in online racing has exploded since real life motorsport
activities were stalled by the virus and this weekend offers plenty
"Super Sim Saturday" sees three virtual races in quick succession --
the Nuerburgring Endurance Series, IMSA Super Sebring and THE RACE
All-Stars Esports Battle.
The All-Stars event, first organised at short notice by Torque
Esports and http://www.the-race.com last Sunday when Australia was
cancelled and featuring Red Bull's Max Verstappen, has moved from
Sunday to Saturday to avoid a clash with F1.
Veloce Esports are running a 'Not the Bah GP' at 1800GMT on Sunday
after an initial 'Not the Aus GP' with McLaren F1 driver Lando
Norris last weekend.
Golfer Ian Poulter said he will be in that field, along with Real
Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
"I love cars, I love Formula One, I love everything about
motorsport," the Briton told Sky Sports television from his home in
Florida, where he has a simulator in his garage.
"It should be fun not just for me but viewerships around the world
which are craving sports... we'd love to get back to normality in
sport as soon as possible, but if we can do it in a different format
it will be quite fun for everyone to see."
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge and Ed
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