Football, cricket and rally stars to join F1 drivers for Sunday's Virtual Grand Prix
Since making his Virtual Grand Prix debut almost a month ago, Charles Leclerc has a perfect record of two wins from two races – but can he make it three on the trot this weekend?
The Ferrari star will be lining up on the F1 2019 game's computer-generated grid again this Sunday for the next F1 Esports Virtual GP – being held on the beautifully rendered Interlagos Circuit after a fan vote to decide the venue – and will be bidding to make it a hat-trick of victories in the series.
But the 22-year-old Monégasque will be up against some stiff opposition, not just in terms of his F1 rivals Antonio Giovinazzi, Alex Albon, George Russell and Nicholas Latifi, but also stars from other sports, including AC Milan captain Alessio Romagnoli, England cricketers Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes – and Norwegian rally champion Petter Solberg.
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Stokes, who will be racing for Red Bull alongside Albon, said: “The last race was a great experience to understand what F1 racing is really about and I really enjoyed it.
“This time around I have been doing a few more Grand Prix around the track, sticking to the regulations to get used to what it’s going to be like come race day. I’m not saying I’m going to be any closer to the other drivers but I have practiced a lot better and hopefully given myself a better chance.”
How to watch
The drivers will join the race remotely, with a host broadcast live from the Gfinity Esports Arena from 1700 UTC (1800 BST) on Sunday May 3.
The broadcast, which will be available here on F1.com and the official Formula 1 YouTube, Twitch, Weibo and Facebook channels, is expected to run for 1 hour 30 minutes, with a qualifying period followed by a 28-lap race.
The Virtual Grand Prix will also be broadcast live with international broadcast partners in over 100 countries including in the UK on Sky Sports and in the US on ESPN.
The F1 Esports Pro Exhibition race will precede the Virtual Grand Prix – and is set to begin at 1600 UTC (1700 BST). The broadcast will be available on the official Formula 1 YouTube, Twitch and Facebook channels as well as selected TV broadcasters and is expected to run for one hour.
Since it was launched in March the Virtual Grand Prix series has proved immensely popular with fans around the world, with the Bahraini, Vietnamese and Chinese virtual GPs accumulating over 12.9m views across F1’s digital platforms. When combined with television estimates, more than 16m people have tuned in for the three races that have taken place so far.
Julian Tan, F1's Head of Digital Business Initiatives and Esports said: “We are delighted that so many fans are watching and engaging with the F1 Esports Virtual Grands Prix. 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 personalities from outside the world of F1, to complement our strong F1 and motorsport driver grid, and use this opportunity to cross pollinate with other sports as we all stand together to give fans something to cheer about during these uncertain times.”
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