F1 Drivers to Compete in F1 2019 Game Amid Season Cancelation

With the F1 racing season postponed through May due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the organization behind the sport is bringing a Grand Prix to F1 2019.F1 announced Friday, March 20, that it is launching a new “F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix series” in developer Codemasters’ F1 2019 game that will feature a number of current F1 drivers and special guest celebrities. These virtual races are set to take place on the same day as every postponed Grand Prix race. The first occurred over the weekend on March 22.

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“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,” Head of Digital Business Initiatives and Esports for F1 Julian Tan said in the announcement. “With every major sports league in the world unable to compete, it is a great time to highlight the benefit of esports and the incredible skill that’s on show.”

The March 22 show featured F1 drivers Lando Norris and Nicholas Latifi as well as celebrities like One Direction’s Liam Payne. You can view F1’s highlight reel of that race here.

These virtual races are scheduled through May although F1 did point out that the F1 Esports Virtual GP Initiative could be extended beyond May if the COVID-19 outbreak results in further real-world race cancellations.Some special changes to the game were made to keep the virtual race entertaining including optional anti-lock brakes, reduced vehicle damage and more.

“Due to the wide variety of gaming skill levels amongst the drivers, game settings will be configured in such a way to encourage competitive and entertaining racing,” the announcement reads. “This includes running equal car performance with fixed setups, reduced vehicle damage, and optional anti-lock brakes and traction control for those less familiar with the game.”

No official championship points are up for grabs in these virtual races as these races are being held for strictly entertainment purposes, F1 says. During non-race weekends, F1 will host online exhibition races where fans will be given the chance to race against actual F1 drives in the game.F1 isn’t the only sport affected by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. The MLB, NBA, and NHL have all seen their seasons postponed. Movie theaters, theme parks, and gaming conferences have been affected too. Here are some ways you can help others and stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wesley LeBlanc is a freelance news writer and guide maker for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @LeBlancWes.

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