With no clear picture emerging as to when the motorsport season will resume as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic, drivers and fans of the sport are finding another way of getting their racing fix in the form of virtual racing.
Following the cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix, different initiatives were quickly put into place by The Race, Veloce Esports and Formula 1 respectively to hold Esports races involving celebrities, drivers and professional gamers, streamed live on YouTube and on television.
Some drivers, such as McLaren’s Lando Norris and Williams Racing’s Nicholas Latifi, chose to compete in both Velcoe Esports #NotTheBahGP event and the official Formula 1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix. But it was Alfa Romeo F1 Esports driver Daniel Bereznay who dominated from pole to flag to take his second victory of the series as Latifi was a fine fifth in the first race before Toro Rosso Esports’ Cem Bolukbasi won the reverse grid event.
SOUND ON!! When a Golfer @IanJamesPoulter crashes with an F1 driver @LandoNorris !#NotTheBahGP by @VeloceEsports #VeloceEsports #F1Esports #Esports #News #Motorsport #MotorsportNetwork pic.twitter.com/4R1BJJR2NQ
— Jean-Eric Vergne (@JeanEricVergne) March 22, 2020
The Veloce Esports event would prove the hors d’oeuvres to what would be a most entertaining a wacky Virtual Bahrain Grand Prix, which involved a multi-car pile-up at the start of the race that enabled an opportunistic Jonny Herbert to fly through into the lead, cutting a corner in the process. McLaren’s Norris suffered technical glitches and his car was computer controlled until late in the race, when he was involved in a titanic battle for fourth with sim racing streamer Jimmy Broadbent.
Broadcast live on Sky Sports F1, the race was eventually won by Renault junior driver Guanyu Zhou, as golfing Ryder Cup hero Ian Poulter won the sporting star battle against cycling royalty Sir Chris Hoy for the minor places.
The first #VirtualGP was a 𝘀𝗺𝗮𝘀𝗵 hit 💥
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 23, 2020