Increasing the organisation’s fan engagement, Formula 1 has announced that Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois will be the latest name to take part in the organisation’s F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix.

The organisation’s third instalment will also feature George Russell, Antonio Giovinazzi, Lando Norris, Alex Albon, Nicholas Latifi and last event’s winner Charles Leclerc in the Virtual Chinese Grand Prix this Sunday.

Julian Tan, F1 Head of Digital Business Initiatives and Esports stated: “From an esports perspective, the last Virtual Grand Prix was one of our most successful events we’ve ever put on, so it’s great to be back and be able to continue building something that has proven hugely popular. 

“It’s very important to us that we can give our fans something to look forward to in these uncertain times, so to see such an impressive list of returning drivers is fantastic. We hope the racing action is just as thrilling and fun as last time out!”

The Belgium international’s inclusion follows on from Ben Stokes’ appearance at the previous event, as fans continue to look for alternatives to traditional live-sport broadcasts due to COVID-19’s impact postponing most competitions. 

With each edition, F1’s virtual tournament continues to increase in popularity with the event being picked up by various broadcasters including Sky Sports in the UK and in the US on ESPN along with over 100 international broadcast partners.

The esports event will also be streamed live on Formula 1’s YouTube, Twitch, Weibo and Facebook channels replacing the official F1 Heineken Chinese Grand Prix 2020 that would have originally taken place.

In addition to the Chinese Virtual Grand Prix, the F1 Esports Series China Championship will host a Pre-season event, whilst also introducing the Esports Pro League in which competitive gamers will have the chance to sign for an official F1 esports team.

Insider Insight: The Virtual Grand Prix has done wonders for F1’s fan engagement during the struggling coronavirus landscape. Its events have opened up its demographics to people who wouldn’t normally have considered watching any F1 event, especially by enlisting athletes from other sports such as Courtois and Ben Stokes.

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