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.
The following drivers will not take part: AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat, Haas’s Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, and Racing Point’s Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll.
Scuderia Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc will not participate in the Virtual Bahrain Grand Prix, the Italian side has confirmed. However, Robert Shwarzman and Dino Beganovic will driver for the Maranello team.