While the start of the 2020 season continued to be delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the popularity of Formula 1 Esports among the drivers soared. However, that appears to have all changed with only two of the current F1 crop set to race in the Virtual Austrian Grand Prix.
In the first of three pre-season virtual races, only Williams duo George Russell and Nicholas Latifi will take to the grid. While both enjoyed success in the series last year, it was Russell who dominated, picking up four wins en route to championship success.
But despite the lack of current F1 stars, there will be a raft of fringe drivers as well as stars from other sports.
The recently demoted Alexander Albon is back and will partner Jeffrey Herlings. It’s a family affair at Haas as Pietro Fittipaldi, who stood in for Romain Grosjean at last season’s final two Grands Prix, will represent the American team alongside his brother Enzo. And elsewhere, ex-F1 drivers Stoffel Vandoorne and Tonio Liuzzi return, while Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois will hope to star again.
The Virtual Austrian Grand Prix kicks off on January 31 as drivers battle it out for a charity prize. There will be three events in total, each consisting of a sprint race and feature race, with the series moving to Silverstone and then Interlagos on February 7 and February 14 respectively.
There will be prizes available at each stop and a guarantee that every charity will receive a significant donation regardless of where their team places.