It was a bit of a shock when the first F1 race in Melbourne was cancelled, not least to the fans trying to enter the circuit in Albert Park – so late was the decision to abort the event.
Since then, Formula 1 has decided to run virtual races online using the official F1 2019 game. The first round was somewhat messy with connection problems causing Lando Norris – one of the only current F1 drivers to participate – to miss out on qualifying. Later on, in the shortened race, more issues saw him disconnected again but his Twitch stream became a source of amusement for fans once he’d called up his pal Max Verstappen.
How do I watch the virtual F1 Esports online?
The events are streamed live on the F1.com website as well as on the official YouTube, Twitch and Facebook channels.
Amazingly, it is also being broadcast live on Sky Sports F1, Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Mix, plus on other partners around the world.
When is the next race in the F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix Series?
Yep, that’s the official title the series has been given, but none of the results and points will count towards the real championship.
The next event, which will be the second virtual race held, is this Sunday, 5 April. It starts at 7pm UTC (8pm in the UK) and is expected to last around 90 minutes, although expect delays. Last time, the race didn’t start until an hour into the broadcast and had to be cut short.
It’s hosted by the Gfinity Esports Arena in London, although drivers will be joining remotely.
Unfortunately, although the second race of 2020 is supposed to be the inaugural Vietmanese GP, this isn’t included in F1 2019, as that is a recreation of the 2019 season.
It means the race will be, once again, back at the virtual Albert Park in Australia. And the aim is to run for 28 laps.
After this race race, keep watching as you’ll be able to see the F1 Esports Pro Exhibition race in which pro esports racers will show how it’s supposed to be done! The scheduled start time is 9.30pm UK time (8.30pm UTC)
Which F1 drivers are racing in the virtual series?
This weekend, five current drivers will race including:
- Charles Leclerc
- Alex Albon
- George Russell
- Lando Norris
- Nicholas Latifi
Some have only just got a sim rig set up at home, including George Russell:
Sim up and running… shall I have a dabble this weekend ? pic.twitter.com/1akaLUU8ZC
— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63)
April 1, 2020
Other F1 drivers have a lot of experience of sim racing, but not in F1 2019 (which is considered more of an arcade game than a ‘proper’ simulation like rFactor 2). This is why the likes of Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton have – so far – declined to take part.
Drivers will have identical cars (so no performance variations) and will be allowed to enable ABS and traction control if they want to – a concession for those less familiar with the game.
For more details about the real championship, read our separate guide on how to watch F1 races.