It involves running game versions of the races on the dates that the actual events should have taken place. F1 Esports worked with Formula 1 to set up the event using the tried and tested game which allows drivers to race one another from home, all linked up on-line, using the official F1 2019 game. What better way to obey the advice to stay home!
The series kicked off last night with the Bahrain Virtual Grand Prix, featuring an eclectic grid of Formula 1 drivers past and present, such as Lando Norris and Nicholas Latifi, as well as Nico Hulkenberg, Stoffel Vandoorne, Esteban Gutierrez and Johnny Herbert.
Joining them were youngsters from F1 team junior programmes and celebrities from the worlds of sport and the internet. The idea for this first race was to mix up the grid rather than simply have the ten F1 teams enter their official Esports drivers with the aim of spicing up the action and reaching an even wider audience.
Our cars were entrusted to Matthew “Sadokist” Trivett and the only Italian in the race, Luca Salvadori. The former is well known as an esports influencer, presenter and commentator who loves motor sport. As for Salvadori, he has raced professionally, mainly on 2 wheels. Both men were able to experience the thrill of a race weekend, with long practice sessions on their simulators, watched by their followers on Twitch, before tackling qualifying and the race.
It was all there, even a small coming together between team-mates shortly after the start! It happens in the real world and in the virtual one too, but at least this way there are no expensive repairs or headaches on the pit wall.
But the main thing was to have fun and put on a show and that was certainly the case. Luca was sixth in qualifying and Sadokist nineth. The race was run over 14 laps (25% of the real race distance.) Given the lack of experience of the drivers, driver aids such as ABS and traction control were allowed to keep crashes to a minimum and the cars all had the same set-up and performance levels.
Our friends at Red Bull Racing started from pole with Austria’s Philipp Eng, followed by Herbert in an Alfa Romeo and Zhou for Renault. Luca and Matthew got good starts to go P4 and P5, before dropping down the order and climbing back up again. They were driving well, fighting with Latifi and Vandoorne.
At the flag, Luca was seventh and Sadokist twelfth. After a close fight, the win went to the Renault Academy’s F2 driver Guanyu Zhou, followed home by Vandoorne (Mercedes) and Eng (Red Bull Racing). The next virtual race in this “championship” where no points are awarded, takes place in two weeks time on the Australian Albert Park track.
Here’s what our drivers had to say and you can also watch the video of the whole race.
Race: Pos. 7th
“It was a crazy race and a wonderful event. Qualifying went well, even if I lost two or three tenths getting a bit over excited, so I might have been able to start from higher up the order. I went for a safe start, keeping the inside line to avoid the first corner bottleneck.
Unfortunately after a few laps, my team-mate ran into me and I lost some places. I had a good pace and made up ground sand for half the race I was fighting with Latifi, before finishing seventh. I am happy with the way it went as I was aiming to finish in the top ten. I want to thank ScuderiaAlpha Tauri, Red Bull Italy and Formula 1 for inviting me and I hope there will be other opportunities to do better. In what is a difficult time, especially in Italy, it’s nice to be able to give people a bit of entertainment.”
Matthew “Sadokist” Trivett
Race: Pos. 12th
“Last night’s race was really incredible and I’m very glad I was able to be a part of it. It was certainly something special to be able to provide entertainment for everyone that’s stuck at home in isolation right now in this difficult time for the whole world. It was a great experience, even if the race didn’t really go to plan for us.
Unfortunately, I made contact with Luca, who had incredible pace and then I got taken out by Johnny Herbert which threw us off our planned pit strategy but I think that, with a little more practice, Luca and I could make the top 5. So a massive thank you to Formula 1 and F1 2019 for putting this on and huge thanks to Scuderia AlphaTauri for having us inside its team. It was a very cool experience and I loved every bit of it.”