Drivers, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

Every F1 driver invited to Virtual Bahrain Grand Prix – but who will enter?

2020 F1 season

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Formula 1 has invited teams to enter each of their drivers to take part in this weekend’s first Virtual Grand Prix.

The event will feature a 28-lap race on Codemasters F1 2019 using the Bahrain International Circuit. Speaking to RaceFans in an exclusive interview, F1’s head of digital business and ESports Julian Tan said “it’s a virtual GP so we obviously want to have as many real-life drivers participating as possible.”

Due to the current restrictions and safeguards in place, drivers will participate in the event remotely rather than travel to a single location. Some have already joined in other events over the past week, including regular simracers Max Verstappen and Lando Norris.

However F1 is keen to ensure drivers with less gaming experience are able to take part on Sunday as well. Competitors will not be allowed to edit their set-ups, car damage will be reduced, and aids such as traction control and anti-lock brakes will be permitted.

How many of them will join in? “it’s difficult to say right now,” says Tan.

“We’re still speaking to the teams and we’re pushing as much as we can we’re hopeful that we can get as many F1 drivers on the grid as possible.”

F1 is “still in discussions with [the teams]” and hasn’t yet ruled out any of the current drivers participating on Sunday.

But given the limited amount of time F1 has had to organise the event, other drivers are likely to be needed to fill in the spaces not taken by regular F1 races. “We will be speaking to influencers in the field, potentially young motor sports stars and other wider sports stars as well in terms of filling up that grid,” said Tan.

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Drivers confirmed for Virtual Bahrain Grand Prix

Team Number Driver
Mercedes TBC Stoffel Vandoorne
Mercedes TBC Esteban Gutierrez
Ferrari TBC Robert Shwartzman
Ferrari TBC Dino Beganovic
Red Bull TBC Philip Eng
Red Bull TBC Chris Hoy
McLaren TBC Lando Norris
McLaren TBC Nicolas Hamilton
Renault TBC Guanyu Zhou
Renault TBC Ian Poulter
Alpha Tauri TBC Matthew Trivett (‘Sadokist’)
Alpha Tauri TBC Luca Salvadori
Racing Point TBC Nico Hulkenberg
Racing Point TBC Jimmy Broadbent
Alfa Romeo TBC Johnny Herbert
Alfa Romeo TBC Aamir Thacker (‘Cyanide’)
Haas TBC Anthony Davidson
Haas TBC Paul Chaloner (‘Redeye’)<
Williams 6 Nicholas Latifi
Williams TBC Liam Payne

*AlphaTauri is Toro Rosso in F1 2019

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Update: F1 race drivers who will not take part

Sebastian Vettel
Charles Leclerc
Max Verstappen
Alexander Albon
Daniel Ricciardo
Esteban Ocon
Romain Grosjean
Kevin Magnussen
Daniil Kvyat
Pierre Gasly
Sergio Perez
Lance Stroll

AlphaTauri, Haas and Racing Point have confirmed their regular race drivers will not take part. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen also told Ziggosport in an interview he will not participate.

“I don’t play that game and I would have to adapt to it,” said Verstappen. “That would take a few days, and that doesn’t make much sense as I’m busy with other things, other games. I would have to switch too much, and that doesn’t work.”

“I would be running around the back, and I don’t enjoy that,” he added.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 63 comments on “Every F1 driver invited to Virtual Bahrain Grand Prix – but who will enter?”

    1. I’m for this, but I think the drivers should demand a better platform to race on, this has been too hastely put together. F1 2019 is a complete joke as a simulator. They should have announced this AFTER drivers have commited, because now they are putting public pressure on the drivers that wouldn’t want to do this. What will happen with sponsorship on cars if this is broadcast? Will the FIA make money from this in sponsorship and broadcasting while the teams and sponsors make no money? Is it all in good will?

      1. I only ever played the first one they made (2010?) and assume it’s not improved much. Maybe now they have a real lap timer at least?

        Better off using the original rFactor.

        1. Stephen Dennison
          20th March 2020, 14:24

          It’s very much improved since then.

        2. Reading the update at bottom of article, it looks like this is a doomed failure. I bet 30 minutes thought went into this with no consultation with the the teams and drivers.

      2. That would be fine, but in addition I would LOVE to see F1 vs IndyCar! Have half the field comprised of drivers from both series and run on different tracks so no one has an advantage. Throw in racing on F1 tracks and IndyCar tracks. How about half an Indy 500 grid with F1 drivers! I’d pay to watch that.

    2. And who do really cares about it? Around 1% of whos watching f1 races regularly?

      1. And 100% of those who may watch F1 in the future, that is the audience Liberty is focusing on lately.
        Last week the #NotTheAUSGP stream of Lando Norris broke the record of the most followed event on Twitch.

        1. I still don’t get that, they said he got like 30k viewers, but i watched a CS:GO major final last month that got over 300k.

          1. It was specifically F1’s all-time record on Twitch, not the overall viewers record. Think a few people have got it the wrong way round, as Matteo has. Overall its a good figure, all things considered

            1. Ah ok that makes sense

    3. Hope Lewis does not participate. Too much pride on the line.

      1. @david-beau Maybe his brother Nicholas Hamilton can join.

      2. Ham couldn’t be bothered to even show up to the biggest F1 fan festival when everyone else did so he won’t be bothered with this

        1. You mean the event that took place days before the biggest GP of the year for a Brit, while he was in a tight fight at that point for the world title.

          ..yeah, they’re the same thing.

        2. @racerdude7730 My guess is Lewis has to do certain PR work for Mercedes as part of his contract with them. Beside that he would have his own PR and charity work. So unless Liberty Media or the FIA have somehow managed to get their PR work written into his contract then it is up to him as to whether or not he makes an appearance for them.
          I drive a bus, and while most of the time I’m in public, there are also times while driving the bus when I’m not, and usually I prefer to keep those times to myself.
          As far as I can tell no one said he was in breach of his contract because he declined the offer to get involved with what sounded like a suddenly concocted scheme, so I’m guessing he was within his rights to decline.

    4. I hope most of the drivers enter, it might end up more fun than regular races.

    5. Hope only a few of them will “race”. It just funny circus for armchair “drivers”.

    6. Traction control and anti lock braking ! It’s a farce, these sort of games are what make kids steal cars and think they can drive but end up crashing into someones living room.

      1. Hello the Daily Mail, fancy meeting you here!

      2. You’re absolutely right. Once I played Euro Trick Simulator I just decided it was absolutely not worth trying to steal that DHL truck. I’ve since turned my life around and become a writer for The Sun.

      3. I hope they included an automatic transmission.

    7. Savvy drivers and teams will give this a miss. Think about getting access to top driver’s telemetry.
      Gold, for anyone who sells that data. For this to work there must be safeguards in place.

      1. This is an arcade game. There’s no risk of telemetry. Sadly.

        1. There is, although it is a game. The players are in remote locations/pods and the input from the drivers controllers are sent to a computer. That data is called ‘telemetry’. It will show how any driver approaches a corner, how hard and when he brakes. etc. The same stuff that is sent from real races to the teams back home. Makes no odds that it is a game. The only real difference is there are no G-forces on the driver. Everything else is more or less the same. My point stands.

          Anyone who plays this risks their racing style secrets leaking to everyone.

          1. Stephen Dennison
            20th March 2020, 14:29

            It’s going to be Max, Lando and 18 Maldonardos.

            I think it’s a really fun idea and those that participate will be entertaining people and taking their minds of a pretty rubbish situation that is affecting absolutely everybody.

          2. Because we all know that racing on a game is exactly the same as racing on track.

            Thank God you told me, I could finaly become an 8x WDC.

            1. I won the DWC last year in a McLaren. Now that I know that it’s the same thing I’m looking at putting together a financial package to get a race seat for 2021.

              Might start a gofundme.

      2. The teams have access to all GPS tracks during actual F1 events.

    8. Definitely don’t count on at least either Kimi or Seb.

      1. I can imagine Fred Vassuer king Kimi to do a virtual race this weekend… Halfway through the question Kimi just turns around and walks off.

      2. Although… @jerejj… Kimi could eat ice cream while e-racing.

        Also… I despise the term E-Sports. Video games are entertainment for kids (young and old ones). It’s not sport.

        1. As opposed to ‘real’ sports, which are mostly games kids play after school and on the weekend…

          That attitude doesn’t make any sense.

          1. @exediron: The difference is the physicality. Sitting in a chair turning a wheel at pretend high speeds involves 0 G-forces. Unless you fall out of the chair unexpectedly.

            1. But what about sports like bowling, darts, or (most of all) chess? Where’s the physicality?

              Sports are about skill, and eSports requires plenty of that.

            2. Chess is not a sport.
              I would call the other games: e-games.

        2. @jimmi-cynic I still play video games. Most recently, and at present, F1 2019 and Dirt Rally 2.0 on PS4. I’ve done iRacing as well, though, and have an account for it.

        3. Ok boomer

        4. Eh? It’s a video game based on a sport, would you rather EA Sports be called EA Games?

    9. Looking at the different reception the event is having here compared to Reddit it’s amazing how many old fans are not getting e-sports. I also hoped that the audience here was more open-minded but this shouldn’t come to a surprise after reading the comments about alternative eating habits a while ago.

      First of all, the audience of these kind of events is very interesting for Liberty. Younger and possible future F1 fans. This approach may lure them to follow F1, become regulars, subscribe services, buy merchandising.

      Second, from the comments here it seems that many are snubbing sims. Remember that drivers spend today more time on sims than on real F1 cars.

      Lastly: get out of your comfort zone, you may find it interesting. I’ve never attended a virtual race before but had a good time last week with The Race’s event and Veloce ones.

      1. José Lopes da Silva
        20th March 2020, 14:17

        Good comment. Thanks for sharing.
        It’s a generational divide almost impossible to overcome. Our societies are coping with these generational divides at matters way more serious.

        I look forward to see Alonso step in, as he wants to win everything in motorsport.

        Now let’s see how many replies do I get saying this is not motorsport.

      2. @m-bagattini I’m not sure I ‘get’ e-sports or not, but I think driving a formula 1 car and playing are racing game are so far removed from each other that most of the F1 drivers are not necessarily any good at this.

        Long ago I spent many many hours playing the original Formula 1 Grand Prix by Geoff Crammond. I mastered the mechanics of that particular game, but if I would pick up another racing game then for the first few hours I would just be crashing into the guard rail and facing the wrong direction all the time. I think the same would happen to many of the F1 drivers if they were to try the Codemasters game, so I would not blame them if they give it a miss.

      3. “Second, from the comments here it seems that many are snubbing sims. Remember that drivers spend today more time on sims than on real F1 cars.”

        Because they aren’t allowed to drive the real things between races anymore. I think it would still be way more intruiging to a child to go visit a free testsession and watch these cars fly buy then to look at a game wich they can play at night.

        Maybe “I don’t get” e-sports, or maybe I just don’t get excited watching a few computercars come over my screen where the action is always going to be more boring then in real life.

      4. @m-bagattini I watched a lot of these e-sports races. Or rather the recap of it on Youtube. Even that is boring to watch though.

        1. @f1osaurus sorry but… username checks out

          1. @m-bagattini Heh sure, but I do love racing games. These e-sport F1 races are incredibly boring though. I can’t beleive you are trying to argue otherwise. There simply is very little going on.Plus the players are mostly unkown people with a high rotation. So you have no connection with any of them to root for.

    10. I understand Verstappen has obligations on iRacing? He usually teams up with Norris, so I expect him out as well.

    11. None wants to be shown up by some kid, and this is an arcade game, not a simulator.

      Had it been iRacing, Verstappen, Norris and Sainz would probably have shown up.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        20th March 2020, 17:38

        @balue – Norris has already shown up… Search for “Not the Australian GP” on Youtube.

    12. I play f1 on my playstation and to be honest in the past it helped me to fine tune my driving technic on the road. For example how to enter & exit corners.

      1. FYI You should not drive like that on a public road!

    13. Neil (@neilosjames)
      20th March 2020, 17:58

      I think most of the drivers who have the necessary gaming setup will enter. Not much point in the others doing it… would rather see some random kart driver with a full home setup in a Ferrari than have Vettel sat on his sofa with a controller being blue-flagged every lap.

    14. Max was on rFactor2 last a Sunday doing an all stars race (live streamed) and Norris was on the Not the Aus GP in F12019… I have no doubts we will see a varied field from F1 taking part.

      I don’t understand why the negativity from some people on here, ultimately a form of racing is being put on with some of the big names taking part alongside drivers from other race series and Sim Racers alike…

      F1 2019 may offer Traction Control and ABS as an option, but, they are options (which many accepted Sim Race platforms also offer) and can be turned off. Whilst this is not F1 as such, at least it is a way to get a part of our racing fix!

    15. I know everyone is quarantined but this is kind of short notice for the teams and drivers, isn’t it? Dropkick Murphy’s had a live stream show on St. Patty’s day and had 150,000 viewers on Youtube.

    16. Verstappen stated in Peptalk (Ziggo, Dutch) tonight he won’t be participating.

      1. Verstappen will race on saturday just like a lot of indycar drivers and Montoya and Rosenqvist , Hulkenberg and many DTM drivers in “ The Race All-star esports Battle” .. They will not race on Sunday! Max only races on Iracing and rfactor 2!

        1. Ah, makes sense indeed. Might have to watch pep talk back, was it interesting?

    17. If Kimi will do this I wouldn’t mind if the world would end. :)

    18. Stephen Higgins
      22nd March 2020, 14:11

      Pls no punterino jimmer.

    19. Stephen Dennison
      22nd March 2020, 14:44

      Racing Point: Jimmy Broadbent!
      Looks like I’m an RP fan for this event.

    20. Looks like i’m being censored. My opinions are not welcome. So screw this site.

    21. I’m knew to e-sports and don’t fully understand. If Broadbent and Leigh etc are using 2019 F1 Game then what do Norris, Verstappen and Rosenqvist use?

      1. Most ‘serious’ simmers use iracing, which is a very complex game with pro setups, graphics are less important, handling of the car and physics is paramount. Another game is Rfactor2, which I have, this is more accessible and very mod-friendly. These games are not easy, and if you want to progress, you need to invest some serious time. Max is a member of team redline, one of the best sim-teams, with guys like rudy van buren, max benecke and lando.

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