Mass crash at the start, technical problems at Lando Norris and almost no Formula 1 drivers: The first official virtual Grand Prix has provided entertainment in the fight against boredom in times of the Corona pandemic, not surprisingly it was lacking in any seriousness or indeed many actual F1 drivers.
The race on the Bahrain track in the F1 2019 racing simulation served on Sunday as a replacement for the cancelled real Grand Prix.
Nico Hülkenberg (Racing Point) caused a collision at the beginning and finished eleventh, the victory went to Chinese Formula 2 driver Guanyu Zhou (Renault) ahead of Mercedes substitute driver Stoffel Vandoorne (Belgium) and Austrian Philipp Eng (Red Bull). Due to technical difficulties the race lasted only 14 instead of the 28 laps planned.
Technical problems were encountered by the British McLaren-Youngster Norris, who, besides Canadian Nicholas Latifi (Williams), was the only Formula 1 driver to start. Starting last, Norris calls Verstappen whilst live on his personal Twitch stream, asking for advice. The reply is certainly humourous and worth watching on the player above.
Norris missed the qualifying and his car made up several places as an AI computer-controlled player initially – and finished fifth, just ahead of Latifi, ensuring another real F1 driver missed the race.
Among others virtual racers included singer Liam Payne, Ian Poulter (former fifth best in the Golf World Ranking) and six-time track cycling Olympic champion Chris Hoy also took part.
Lando did have an entertaining battle with Youtube sim-racer Jimmy Broadbent, the onboard and commentary can be watched below.
Due to the pandemic, Formula 1 has meanwhile postponed or completely cancelled the first seven races. The season is supposed to start at Azerbaijan on June 7th at the earliest, but as of today, this appears to be in doubt – leaving France as the prospective starting point to the sport’s disrupted 2020 season.
Construction was set to begin on Baku’s street circuit but the cloud of uncertainty hovering over Europe regarding the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the race’s organisers to postpone their event and seek a potential replacement date later in the year. Canada due the week after, is likely to be cancelled after the country today pull’s it’s athletes out of the Tokoyo Olympics.