Bottas and Ocon ensure record number of F1 drivers confirmed for virtual Monaco GP

Keeping fans and drivers entertained in equal measure during the global coronavirus pandemic lockdown, Esports racing may hit record viewing figures this weekend with the fullest field of F1 drivers yet.

Joining regulars Alex Albon, Antonio Giovinazzi, George Russell, Nicholas Latifi, Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc for this Sunday’s virtual Monaco Grand Prix are Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas and Renault’s Esteban Ocon, making it the biggest field to date.

But it’s not only the inclusion of the stars of F1 that will make this event one of the most popular so far, as the drivers will be joined by Arsenal’s Premier League star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, racing alongside Lando Norris for McLaren, with Real Madrid goalkeeper and Esports aficionado Thibaut Courtois returning to drive for Alfa Romeo.

Last week’s winner of the virtual Brazilian Grand Prix, Alexander Albon, will be partnered by big-wave surfer Kai Lenny for Red Bull Racing and Latin American singer Luis Fonsi will also make his Virtual Grand Prix debut for the BWT Racing Point Team.

“The Virtual Grand Prix series has proven to be a fantastic live spectacle with over 20m viewers to date, providing fans with some racing entertainment during these challenging times,” said Julian Tan, Head of Digital Business Initiatives and Esports said. “We are delighted to announce our strongest line-up of current F1 drivers alongside a star-studded list of global talent from the worlds of sport and entertainment, as we all stand together to put on great racing entertainment around the historic streets of Monaco, virtually.”

Broadcast live on the official Formula 1 YouTube, Twitch and Facebook channels and live on various international broadcast partners in over 100 countries, the Virtual Monaco Grand Prix will take place on Sunday May 24, the day originally scheduled for the Monaco Grand Prix proper, which has been cancelled from the 2020 calendar.

The virtual Monaco Grand Prix is, of course, not the only Esports racing for fans to enjoy this weekend, with Veloce Esports also running its popular #NotTheGP around the Monaco circuit on Saturday 23 May at 8pm BST. And, two weeks after racing the Formula E Monaco circuit, Round 5 of the ABB Formula E #RaceAtHome Challenge in support of UNICEF returns with all of the pro drivers again participating.

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.