Formula 1 and football unite as Man City’s Sergio Aguero, Real Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois and Barcelona’s Arthur Melo take to the digital track for the Spanish Virtual Grand Prix.

F1’s traditional racing replacement series has proven to be a big hit among broadcasters and fans alike as with every passing race more recognisable names are introduced to compete against some of the organisation’s professional drivers.

Along with the competition being streamed live on F1’s YouTube, Twitch, Weibo, Huya and Facebook channels, the race will be broadcast on Sky Sports in the UK, ESPN for American audiences and FOX Sports Asia across Southeast Asia.

Last weekend’s Virtual Dutch Grand Prix reached 2.5m views across F1’s digital platforms, meaning in total the series has garnered 15.4m views just on the organisations channel alone.

Julian Tan, Head of Digital Business Initiatives and Esports stated: “This week sees one of the most exciting Virtual Grand Prix line-ups we’ve had so far and we are delighted to welcome three of Europe’s football stars to compete alongside drivers from the worlds of F1 and motorsport.

“Their desire to participate is a testament to the continued success and popularity of the F1 Esports Virtual Grands Prix and we are proud to give sports fans a live spectacle to enjoy during these troubling times.”

During live-sports’ hiatus eRacing in particular has grown in prominence to a mainstream audience with various titles gaining exposure and competitions like eNASCAR and the F1 Virtual Grand Prix securing broadcast deals during the COVID-19 crisis. The events also provide various sports clubs with the opportunity to provide unique fan engagement opportunities such as Man City’s Aguero participating in the competition.

F1’s decision to host an all pro esports event has also managed to maintain and in some cases strengthen its social media profiles with the website gaining an estimated 310,000 youtube subscribers in March and April, according to Socialblade. Moreover, Formula 1’s Twitch channel has more than doubled its following after garnering an estimated 75,000 followers in March and April.

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