As a result of the beginning of F1 season being constantly delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Formula One leaned into the Esports as a way to entertain the fans during the times of no racing. They established the Virtual GP series that takes place during the same weekends where the originally planned real life GP’s.
The Virtual Chinese GP taking place this upcoming Sunday is the third race event that is going to take place. It will once again feature 6 of the current F1 grid drivers in it. The drivers confirmed for this VGP are: Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris, Antonio Giovinazzi, Alex Albon, George Russel and Nicholas Latifi. Leclerc won the previous VGP held on the Albert Park circuit in the F1 2019 game.
Julian Tan, the head of F1’s Esports said: “From an Esports perspective, the last Virtual Grand Prix was one of our most successful events we've ever put on, so it's great to be back and be able to continue building something that has proven hugely popular. It's very important to us that we can give our fans something to look forward in these uncertain times, so to see such an impressive list of returning drivers is fantastic. We hope the racing action is just as thrilling and fun as last time out.”
In addition to the current F1 drivers, other names outside of the racing world are also going to join the Virtual Chinese GP. For example, the goalkeeper of Real Madrid and Belgian national team Thibaut Courtois is going to drive alongside Alex Albon in Red Bull this upcoming weekend. Courtois has previously joined other sim racing events hosted by Veloce Esports and Motorsport Games, while the La Liga football season is suspended.
Courtois expressed his enthusiasm for the upcoming weekend: “I am really happy to be racing this Sunday in the Virtual GP alongside Alex Albon for Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and to be part of the Red Bull Esports family. They’ve shared some tips with me and helped me train over the last few weeks so I'm now really looking forward to the race. I love the game, I've faced Alex a few times already on track and racing against other F1 drivers is pretty awesome. Practice over the last few weeks has seen me always around the middle of the grid so I'm hoping to get in to the points”
Courtois has been seen joining for training during the sim sessions that were streamed by drivers such as Leclerc, Norris, Russel and Latifi over on Twitch. He has been also taking part in the #RACEFORTHEWORLD organised by drivers, who are raising money for the United Nations Foundation to help with fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. The lineup for this consists of Leclerc, Russel, Albon, Giovinazzi, Arthur Leclerc, Luca Albon among others, including drivers from F2 and other series. The final race of the #RACEFORTHEWORLD is going to take place this Friday.
The F1 Virtual Chinese GP will take place at 7pm CET.