A number of planned races for Formula 1's Grand Prix 2020 season have been dramatically postponed since the global coronavirus outbreak. To keep the ball rolling, it's now hosting virtual races to continue the season amid uncertain times.
Formula 1 announced it would be hosting a Virtual Grand Prix series replacing each weekend's postponed races with a virtual one played by drivers.
Each race will be held on Sunday and started off with the Virtual Bahrain Grand Prix on March 22. The drivers will play the races on the PC version of F1 2019 and while it'll strictly be for entertainment purposes, game settings will be adjusted for the drivers depending on skill. This will range from equal car performance to "optional anti-lock brakes and traction control" for the real-life drivers who are less familiar with virtual racing.
"We are very pleased to be able to bring some light relief in the form of the F1 Esports Virtual GP, in these unpredictable times, as we hope to entertain fans missing the regular sporting action," Julian Tan, F1's esports head said.
"With every major sports league in the world unable to compete, it is a great time to highlight the benefits of esports and the incredible skill that’s on show."
While it's not set to ever take over the real thing, it could provide some much-needed normalcy for the world in quarantine right now.
You can watch the races via the official Formula 1 YouTube, Twitch and Facebook channels. Each race is expected to run for 1.5 hours, with a "qualifying period where grid positions will be determined based on the drivers' fastest lap time".
Formula One teams have jumped into panic mode as the 2020 season has been postponed in the face of the coronavirus threat. In a telephone conference this week, team bosses have reportedly called for a continuation of the 2020 regulations into 2021, as well as a mandatory freeze of chassis and gearbox development, among others. According to Motorsport, nine of the ten teams agreed to this, while Ferrari asked for more time to consider the proposal.