Formula 1 launches virtual Grand Prix Series to replace postponed races

Formula 1 launches virtual Grand Prix Series to replace postponed races

Formula 1 launches virtual Grand Prix Series to replace postponed races

The three latest races to be called off take the grand total of postponed events to seven, with Australia, Bahrain, Vietnam, China, Holland, Spain and Monaco all now off.

Formula 1 has replaced every postponed Grand Prix with its new esports alternative the F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix series, featuring some of the sport's current drivers.The initiative, now set to run till May, will see current F1 drivers and special guests compete in the series in order to retain fan engagement during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The races, which will feature current F1 stars plus other guests, will take place on the same days when the real grands prix were due to happen. F1 initially announced that the race had been postponed along with the Dutch and Spanish grands prix but it was eventually cancelled altogether after the Automobile Club de Monaco (ACM) said the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic has made the race "no longer tenable".

Viewers will be able to tune in via YouTube, Facebook and Twitch with a qualifying session to determine the grid preceding the race itself.

The series will run on the PC version of the official F1 2019 game, and the first race will be a 50% race distance around the Sakhir track.

Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen and McLaren F1's Lando Norris pioneered the Series after they both, along with a number of top racing drivers around the world including Juan Pablo Montoya, created a similar race when the Australian Grand Prix was cancelled last week.

No official World Championship points will be awarded over the course of the gaming series. Each auto will run with the same, equal-performance setup with reduced vehicle damage.

On weekends without a Virtual Grand Prix, Formula 1 has said it will host online exhibition races for fans to participate in.

Frank Sagnier, CEO of Codemasters, added: "We're excited to be a part of the new F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix Series". Our decisions must also be consistent with French and English government advice, the policy of Groupe Renault, but also that of Formula 1 authorities.

"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.

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