Nicholas Latifi, Williams, Albert Park, 2020

Who’s who on the starting grid for the 2020 Virtual Bahrain Grand Prix

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The 20 drivers who will take part in the first Virtual Bahrain Grand Prix have been announced. Here’s more on who will be driving for each team.

2020 Virtual Bahrain Grand Prix entrants

Mercedes

Stoffel Vandoorne

Following a superb GP2 career – second in his first season and an utterly dominant champion on his return – much was expected from Vandoorne in F1. But he had the misfortune to drive two of McLaren’s least competitive cars of recent years and lost his place on the grid when the team made sweeping changes at the end of 2018. He has since made a successful switch to Formula E.

Esteban Gutierrez

Gutierrez spent two difficult seasons at Sauber in 2013 and 2014, then returned to F1 with Haas after a year away. However he was replaced by Kevin Magnussen after a point-less season. He went on to race in Formula E and IndyCar, and joined Mercedes’ simulator programme.

Ferrari

Robert Shwartman

The 20-year-old Russian driver has been a member of Ferrari’s Driver Academy since 2018, and nbeat fellow FDA member Marcus Armstrong to the Formula 3 title last year.

Dino Beganovic

A recent addition to the FDA, the Swedish karting ace joined the Scuderia’s junior team in January. Just 16 years old, he won the Italian and Swedish OK karting titles last year, but his debut in racing cars has been delayed due to the late start to this year’s championship.

Red Bull

Philip Eng

Experienced GT racer Eng is a familiar face from the F1 support bill, having won the Porsche Supercup title on that soaked weekend at the Circuit of the Americas in 2015. The two-times Spa 24 Hours winner is now a works driver for BMW.

Chris Hoy

Sir Chris Hoy, 43, won six Olympic gold medals in cycling between 2004 and 2012. He then made a successful switch to sports car racing, winning the European Le Mans Series LMP3 class in 2015 with team mate Charlie Robertson.

McLaren

Lando Norris

The only current driver on the grid to have previously started an F1 race. Norris made his F1 debut for McLaren last year, and has won championships in F3, Formula Renault Eurocup and the Toyota Racing Series.

Nicolas Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton’s brother is both a proficient gamer and a real-world racer who has competed in the British Touring Car Championship.

Renault

Guanyu Zhou

Having originally joined Ferrari’s Driver Academy in 2015, Chinese racer Zhou switched to Renault at the start of last year and is now their reserve driver. He was the highest-placed rookie driver in Formula 2 last year.

Ian Poulter

The 2010 and 2012 world golf champion, nicknamed The Postman, is known for his distinctive dress sense. The 44-year-old’s connection to Renault comes through their new title sponsor DP World, who he has an endorsement deal with.

AlphaTauri

Matthew Trivett (aka ‘Sadokist’)

Canadian game commentator Trivett, 30, is also an amateur racing driver.

Luca Salvadori

World Superbike racer Salvadori is also a prolific creator of videos on YouTube.

Racing Point

Jimmy Broadbent

Broadbent runs one of the largest simracing channels on YouTube. He specialises in iRacing, rFactor 2, Assetto Corsa, and Gran Turismo.

Nico Hulkenberg

Losing his first F1 drive at Williams, despite taking pole for the 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix, set Hulkenberg’s career back, as did an ill-timed switch to Sauber in 2013. At Force India and Renault he came agonisingly close to a podium finish on several occasions, but never scored one, and was dropped at the end of last year. But he won the Le Mans 24 Hours with Porsche in 2015 at his first attempt.

Alfa Romeo

Johnny Herbert

Despite scoring a remarkable fourth place on his F1 debut in 1989 while still suffering the consequences of an appalling F3000 crash at Brands Hatch, Herbert’s initial entry into F1 was cut short. He got his break when he returned to his original team, Benetton, at the end of 1994, and won twice the following year. He added a third win at Stewart in 1999, but bowed out at the end of the following season.

Aamir Thacker (‘Cyanide’)

Influencer, Twitch streamer and “car guy” Thacker competes under the pseudonym Cyanide.

Haas

Anthony Davidson

After a handful of F1 starts with Minardi and BAR in 2002 and 2004, Davidson got a full-time F1 seat at Super Aguri in 2007. But the team collapsed the following year. Greater success awaiting in sportscars, however, and he shared the 2014 World Endurance Championship title with team mate Sebastien Buemi. He also had a hand in Mercedes’ F1 success as their simulator driver.

Paul Chaloner (‘Redeye’)

Trivett, 48, is a professional video game broadcast host and founder of Code Red Esports.

Williams

Nicholas Latifi

Williams’ regular race driver Nicholas Latifi should have made his second grand prix start today; as it is he is still waiting for his F1 debut. He was runner-up in F2 last year, the closest he’s come to winning a junior championship since graduating from karting.

Liam Payne

A former member of the boy band One Direction, Payne is now a solo artist and released his first album at the end of last year.

The Virtual Bahrain Grand Prix will take place at 8pm GMT and will be streamed live on YouTube, Facebook and Twitch, as well as on other sports channels.

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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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  • 24 comments on “Who’s who on the starting grid for the 2020 Virtual Bahrain Grand Prix”

    1. Lost opportunity to have a vidya game race featuring people we care about…. then they ruin it with twitch influencers and Johnny Herbert.

      I’m desperate for F1 content…. but I won’t be watching this…

      Missed opportunity.

      1. It’s just a bit of fun. Its also a bit more exciting when you’ve got people like Jimmy Broadbent in there who will be excited to beat any of the real drivers. If it was just the proper F1 grid it would be a nice novelty but absolutely none of them would care at all. All the recent streams with lots of real drivers have just been wreck fests.

        1. Jimmy Broadbent who lives in & races from a shed in his mothers back garden.
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXvmD1e34Q8

          He’s also started doing some real world racing in the past year & recently got a license that was going to see him do some races around the Nordschleife before this virus started causing havoc with everything.

          His videos are pretty entertaining.

          1. Yeah I like his videos. He’s a nice lad, been on quite a journey the last few years, and this year is set to be massive with all these high profile streams and hopefully some real life racing.
            If F1 is going to continue with esports it’s good people like Jimmy (and hopefully SuperGT next time) get to be involved.

    2. (Lando Norris) The only driver on the grid to have previously started an F1 race.

      Not sure if Nico agrees with this ;)

      1. Or Johnny/Anthony

      2. Heh, indeed @coldfly; that sentence might be missing a ‘Norris is the only current F1 driver on the grid who actually started a race’; though even then, Hulk raced in the last race, so is just about current, arguably.

        Point does remain that it’s not an F1 grid rich race, for being an F1 associated event; short notice surely didn’t help.

    3. Thats not the grid i expected, and an arcade game aswell, what a missed opportunity..

      1. GtisBetter (@passingisoverrated)
        22nd March 2020, 18:30

        I don’t think they have a choice. As it’s the official game of F1. Other games can’t use the IP. But if they choose Iracing it would have the sim qualities, but not the F1 look.

        That being said, i love simracing, but can’t be bothered to watch it. Why watch when you can play.

        1. Ofc. they have a choice. This is gonna be a farce and nothing else.

      2. @maisch @rethla There’s no ‘Sim’ out there that has an officially licenced full grid of F1 cars.

        Additionally I don’t see why they would use anything other than the officially licened F1 game just as they do for the officially licenced F1 eSport series.

        1. @gt-racer
          If they want it to to have some sort of credibility but ofc they dont want that.

      3. Hm, on the one hand I get what you guys are saying about the grid (certainly could have gotten more of the real guys, shame Red Bull didn’t get max in, for example) @maisch, but I don’t see much merit to the “real sim” argument you make @rethla.

        Sure, the cars MIGHT drive closer to what you would get “for real”, but as this is an officially supported event, it makes zero sense NOT to use their licenced partner for making the official game, as @gt-racer points out. It is their chosen partner.
        The gimmick was more in the settings (the sheer amount of overtaking completely besides the track feels off to me, and that move to get p4 from Broadbent, sigh) and partly in the participants – although both might have at least in part been due to relatively short preparation time – than in the game used.
        I must say that the image quality at times looked good enough where you could almost believe they were real cars (if you ignored the bumper car driving), the commentary team seemed to have more control of what was shown, or the game itself does a better job of showing the action (not sure which it is, not too familiar with the tech) than the iRacing ones.

    4. Here is hopng the Hulk gets a podium!

    5. Miss real racing but this should be fun.

    6. Sergey Martyn
      22nd March 2020, 20:02

      So darn exciting! Nameless ghouls, boot your laptops! The only relief is that almost all of the F1 racers decided not to participate in such hogwash.

      1. most “real” drivers would not win against professional esports drivers, though

    7. Why not to use some pro sim racing software, like rFactor? Codemaster series is nice looking but quite arcadish.

      And why not to let everyone to try out, not just big names? Make several days of prequalification, letting everyone one hour and 12 laps at same good weather conditions. Then let 32 fastest from prequalification into qualification with 26 fastest on a starting grid.

      Eventually it could be something like Dota Majors where you can select 100 fastest for entire season to limit prequalifications.

    8. This is like some weird alternate reality GP haha.

    9. Out all of the ePrix that’ve been planned to replace the real thing, this one’s definitely the most serious and done in the most entertaining way. I really like the commentators and I’m also interested in how the likes of Zhou, Begovic and Schwartzmann will fare against more experienced drivers, although it’s only a simrace and doesn’t tell you anything about the actual skill of those drivers.

      1. @pironitheprovocateur
        Shame that the drivers didn’t seem to take it as seriously. The first lap was kinda embarrassing. The “Not the Bah GP” seemed to take it more seriously despite the lower budget vibe.

        1. Still pretty impressed by the young Zhou. I’ve been watching that guy for some time now and he’s among my favourite young drivers, probably with Schwartzmann.

    10. They should “convince” Raikkonen to race in this, with a webcam ofc. Just to see how bored he is for doing this. Would bet he would “crash” in the first lap and then leave the stream just to have an empty chair for 2 hours… :D

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