2003 World Rally Champion Petter Solberg, AC Milan captain Alessio
Romagnoli and cricketer Stuart Broad will be among the newcomers at this Sunday’s
Virtual Dutch Grand Prix.
Formula 1 has replaced planned grands prix – either postponed
or cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic – with virtual events, using the
F1 2019 platform.
Formula 1 was meant to be heading to the Netherlands’
Zandvoort Circuit to end a 35-year absence from the venue, but the event has
been indefinitely postponed.
But as Zandvoort is not available on Codemasters’ F1 2019
game the participants will race at Interlagos, which comfortably won a fan
Broad’s England team-mate Ben Stokes, who participated in
the Virtual Vietnam Grand Prix at Melbourne, will return for his second event.
Five Formula 1 drivers have confirmed their participation in
Sunday’s event: Alexander Albon, Antonio Giovinazzi, George Russell, Nicholas
Latifi and Charles Leclerc.
Ferrari driver Leclerc triumphed at the previous two events,
overtaking Red Bull rival Albon for the win in China.
Lando Norris had signed up for the prior three events but had regular connection issues; McLaren has not yet confirmed its line-up for Sunday’s round.
The event, which will be streamed on various platforms, is due to begin at 18:00 BST on Sunday.
Formula 1 revealed that it has had 13 million views of its virtual events across its digital platforms so far.
“We are delighted that so many fans are watching and engaging with the F1 Esports Virtual Grands Prix,” said Head of Esports Julian Tan.
“The viewership continues to go from strength to strength, outlining the growing success of the races and the wider potential of Formula 1 in esports.
“Furthermore, we are thrilled to welcome more stars from outside the world of F1, to complement our strong F1 and motorsport driver grid, and use this opportunity to link up with other sports as we all stand together to give fans something to cheer about during these difficult times.”
Formula 1 is working on a plan to return to on-track action in July, with two races in Austria followed by two races in Britain.