Formula 1 has confirmed that with a number of the season's opening Grand Prix canceled, they'll be running virtual races featuring top drivers and stars, starting this weekend with Bahrain. So, here’s what you need to know.
Due to the ongoing health pandemic across the globe, almost every sport and subsequent league has temporarily ground to a halt. Many have thought about competing without fans, while others are waiting for everything to die down.
In their place, where a sports video game is available, virtual leagues and competitions have been popping up – with the NBA and football teams leading the way. Now, though, Formula 1 has joined the party following the news that their season won’t begin until June at the very earliest.
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 20, 2020
When is the virtual Bahrain F1 Grand Prix?
With Baku and the Azerbaijan GP being targeted for the first real-life race, Formula 1 has confirmed that they’ll be running a few races on the PC version of F1 2019 – starting with the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, March 22 at 8 pm GMT/9 pm CET/4 pm EST and 1 PM PST.
Instead of having the race weekend spread out across a few days, real-life drivers and fans will compete on Sunday – first in a shortened qualifying to sort out the grid and then a 28-lap race, with the whole thing lasting for around 90 minutes.
Virtual Bahrain F1 Grand Prix stream
The race will be broadcast across the Formula One’s official YouTube, Twitch and Facebook pages – as well as the F1 website – though, drivers could get involved themselves with their own broadcasts.
Lando Norris, who currently races for the McClaren team, set the Twitch viewership record for the F1 2019 game when he competed in Veloce Esport’s ‘Not The AUS’ Grand Prix on March 15 that possibly inspired this idea from Formula 1 themselves.
Who is taking part in the Bahrain Virtual Grand Prix?
Formula 1 noted that a number of real-life drivers and other names were going to compete in the race with recognizable drivers like Nico Hulkenberg, Stoffel Vandoorne, and Philipp Eng taking part.
Olympian Chris Hoy and golfing champion Ian Poulter will also suit for the race, with Poulter joining Renault test driver Guanyu Zhou on the grid for the French team while Hoy will race for Red Bull.
In addition to the canceled Bahrain race, there will also be virtual Grand Prix’ for each postponed race on the calendar – including Vietnam, China, Netherlands, Spain, and Monaco.
Those tracks that aren’t in-game – Vietnam and the Netherlands – will be replaced by another layout, though we’ll have to wait and see as to what those are.