Coronavirus: F1 drivers to stage virtual reality races

Ruben Hill
May 5, 2020

Monaco Grand Prix organisers have confirmed the famous race will not take place in 2020 having been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Due to the ongoing and fluid nature of the COVID-19 situation globally, the FIA, Formula One and the three promoters have taken these decisions in order to ensure the health and safety of the travelling staff, championship participants and fans, which remains our primary concern", a joint statement from F1 and the FIA read.

Monaco is widely regarded as the most important and historic race of the season, while Zandvoort was set to host a Grand Prix for the first time since 1985, with Max Verstappen heading to his home race for the first time. You can watch the fun via Formula 1's official YouTube, Twitch and Facebook channels. Qualifying will be included, with race distances capped at 50 percent of the usual length.

All lost races have a direct impact on the income of the teams - except Monaco which doesn't pay a hosting fee to F1 - and the general hit to the global economy could also have an impact on future sponsorship. Vehicle setups will be standardised for fairness, and F1 has noted that no official World Championship points will be awarded at the end.

"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".

The cancelled Australian Grand Prix at the Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne might therefore replace the Vietnam Grand Prix in the F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix series. Last weekend saw The Race's All-Star Esports Battle attract an impressive crowd, watching real-world drivers take on the best virtual racers.

The first Grand Prix of the 2020 season is now set to be in Baku, Azerbaijan, on 7th June.

Formula 1's head of esports Julian Tan 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.

But F1 have found a way to tide them over by launching the official F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix series, which will begin with a virtual version of the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday.

Due to the entertainment-only objective of the initiative, no championship points awarded at the end of the Virtual Grand Prix.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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