Formula 1’s Virtual Grand Prix Series will officially conclude before the F1 World Championship commences on 5 July, with Sunday’s Azerbaijan circuit being the event’s penultimate race.
The competition’s sim-racing substitute, which made its debut in March, has proven to be a successful project, both in terms of fan engagement and viewership figures. The event’s debut race garnered 3.2m online viewers with broadcasters such as Sky Sports, ESPN, and FOX Sports Asia adding the virtual races to its programming.
However, as Formula 1 gears up to commence its 2020 season next month, the competition’s Virtual Grand Prix series will be coming to a close due to the participating racers, and its guest sports stars, resuming sporting commitments.
Julian Tan, Head of Digital Business Initiatives and Esports stated: “We are immensely proud of the Virtual Grand Prix series, which allowed us to bring Formula 1 to fans around the world, in a time when actual racing was not possible.
“We are very grateful to the teams and drivers that have taken part in the series to date and look forward to ending the series with a bang in the coming weeks as we all gear up to kick off the 2020 Formula 1 World Championship season in Austria.”
Azerbaijan’s virtual event will see familiar faces such as Antonio Giovinazzi, Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris, Alex Albon, Nicholas Latifi and George Russell be joined by Racing Point driver Sergio Perez and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly.
The esports series will also feature Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who makes his fourth virtual GP appearance, AC Milan shot stopper Gianluigi Donnarumma and Aymeric Laporte of Man City, who is making his F1 esports debut.
YouTube racer Jimmy Broadbent is also returning to the grid, racing alongside Perez under the Racing Point banner.
Once again drivers will join the race remotely, with the event being hosted live from the Gfinity Esports Arena on Sunday, June 7. The race will be streamed across F1’s various social media platforms alongside its international broadcast partners in over 100 countries.
Insider Insight: F1’s Virtual Grand Prix will go down as a successful venture for the company as it looked to engage its audience while no racing was able to take place. The experience also allowed some of the drivers to increase their profile, which could push a younger demographic to watch Formula 1 when it restarts in July.