Along with almost all other sports, Formula 1 is currently off the track because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is sweeping across the globe and leading to strict measures being introduced to limit the movement of people to prevent the virus spreading.
Keeping the show going. But for the pandemic, Formula 1 would currently be tackling the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend and the talk would be about lap times, tyre compounds and race strategies. Instead, Formula 1 has decided to give race fans something rather different under the banner of “We race on”. This will use the F1 Esports Series platform which was a great success last year and saw the FDA Hublot Esports Team driver, David Tonizza win the Drivers’ title. This weekend, using its official game, Formula 1 will run the Bahrain Grand Prix, albeit in virtual form.
Robert and Dino. The Virtual Bahrain Grand Prix will get underway at 21.10 CET (20.10 GMT) with twenty cars on the grid, including the two from the FDA Hublot Esports Team. The drivers will be taking part from their respective homes to maintain the demands of social distancing. But on this occasion, it won’t be the usual Ferrari Esports drivers in the virtual cockpits, but instead two Ferrari Driver Academy students, who are more used to racing for real. Russia’s Robert Shwartzman, the reigning FIA Formula 3 champion will be in St Petersburg and, at the controls in Linkping, Dino Beganovic, the Swedish 16 year old karting star, who joined the Ferrari programme aimed at bringing on talented youngsters this year and will make his single-seater debut in the Italian Formula 4 championship.
Programme. Qualifying gets underway at 20.50 CET (19.50 GMT) and lasts 18 minuutes, while at 21.10 CET, the five red lights will go out over the grid to start the 28 laps, which is half the real race distance. In these races, the regulations demand that all the cars will have the same set-up and performance level. The event can be seen on the various Formula 1 social channels: YouTube, Facebook and Twitch. The Ferrari Esports channel will carry a live written commentary and the race can also be seen on Facebook at FDAFans. After Bahrain, there will be four more Virtual Grands Prix, on the dates in which real races were due to be held, before they were postponed or cancelled. On 5 April, the original date of the Vietnam GP, the race will feature the Australian track; on 19 April, in China, on 3 May in Monaco and 10 May in Spain.