The first Grand Prix of the season is still two months away but Formula 1 fans will have plenty to keep them occupied over the coming three weekends, with the return of the Virtual Grands Prix, introduced for the first time last year as part of the #WeRaceOn initiative during the lockdown period. The Ferrari Driver Academy Esports Team will take part and, apart from the professional sim drivers, some of the Maranello marque’s real racers will also take part. This coming weekend, the chosen circuit is Austria with FDA members Arthur Leclerc and Marcus Armstrong driving.
Mini championship. There will be three Virtual GPs this year, making up a mini championship. As mentioned, it starts in Spielberg and then on 7 February comes a round at Silverstone, home to the British Grand prix, followed on 14 February by a visit to Interlagos in Brazil. There’s a prize fund of 100,000 dollar, which will be given to ten different charities according to where the teams finish in the classification. Ferrari has nominated Save the Children as its charity.
The format. As last year, the sim drivers will also be involved and the new format means they play a vital role. Drivers for the FDA Esports Team, David Tonizza and new signing, two-time world champion Brendon Leigh, will take part in a 5 lap Sprint Race, after a one flying lap qualifying run to aim for pole. That will then define the grid for the Feature Race, to be run over 50% of a real race distance, which in Austria means 36 laps and will see professional drivers taking part as well as celebrities from the world of show business and sport. Arthur Leclerc took part in two Virtual GPs last year, finishing fourth in Vietnam and fifth in Monaco. Marcus Armstrong, who last Monday made his debut at the wheel of a Formula 1 car, will also be making his debut in this type of event.
Programme. The opening event takes place this Sunday evening and can be seen live on the FDA’s Facebook page as well as Formula 1’s Facebook, YouTube and Twitch channels. The broadcast starts at 19 CET and lasts around 90 minutes. The Sprint Race gets underway at 19.10 with the Feature Race starting at 19.30.