Formula 1 has launched a new Esports Virtual Grand Prix series through Codemasters F1 2019 game.
As announced on the organisation's website, current F1 drivers will take part in virtual races so fans of the sport can still watch Formula 1 despite the coronavirus outbreak.
"The series will use the official F1 2019 PC video game, developed by Codemasters, and the first virtual GP on the Sakhir track will be a 50 per cent length race with 28 laps," said F1.
"The broadcast, which will be available on the official Formula 1 YouTube, Twitch and Facebook channels, is expected to run for 1 hour 30 minutes, with a qualifying period where grid positions will be determined based on the drivers' fastest lap time."
Races will run in place of each postponed Grand Prix, the first of which was the Virtual Bahrain Grand Prix on March 22nd. Due to different gaming skills, there will be equal car performance with fixed settings and reduced vehicle damage. For those with little experience with the game, there are optional anti-lock brakes and traction control.
There are no championship points on the line. The Virtual Grand Prix's have been designed for pure entertainment rather than competition. On top of this, during Prix free weekends, fans will have the chance to compete against the Formula 1 drives in online exhibition matches.
"We are very pleased to be able to bring some light relief in the form of the F1 Esports Virtual GP, in these unpredictable times, as we hope to entertain fans missing the regular sporting action," said the head of digital business initiatives and esports Julian Tan.
"With every major sports league in the world unable to compete, it is a great time to highlight the benefits of esports and the incredible skill that's on show."
Codemasters CEO Frank Sagnier added: "We're excited to be a part of the new F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix Series. With sporting events currently on hold around the world, it's great that the official F1® video game can help fill the void by bringing together an exciting line-up of talent to race online during the postponed race weekends. It's going to be competitive, action-packed, and a lot of fun for everyone involved."
Gfinity CEO John Clarke concluded: "Gfinity is proud to be playing its part in the design and delivery of the F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix series, which will bring exciting virtual racing to a legion of Formula 1 and Esports fans around the globe.
"The virtual Bahrain GP will feature all the thrills and spills of racing with F1 drivers and special guest celebrities going head-to-head, which promises to put a smile back on the faces of millions of sports fans."