HÀ NỘI — The Việt Nam Grand Prix will take place tomorrow after all … but only in virtual reality.
Hà Nội should have been hosting its first-ever Formula One race around a newly constructed street circuit built close to Mỹ Đình Stadium on Sunday.
But a decision was made in March to postpone the event during to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite Việt Nam recording incredibly low numbers of positive cases, a little more than 230 as of Saturday morning, organisers took the decision to postpone April’s event until a later, safer, date.
This weekend, more than 100,000 people were expected to arrive in Hà Nội to witness the capital city’s inaugural race.
Instead, as the world gets to grips with the coronavirus pandemic, a virtual reality version of the race will be streamed on various online platforms.
The format will be delivered by leading eSports provider, Gfinity PLC.
It was created to give race fans the chance to continue watching the season despite the postponement of many of the early meetings.
The first race was held on March 22, recreating the Bahrain Grand Prix.
A scene from the Bahrain F1 virtual race that was held on March 22. — Image Gfinity.
Gfinity say they have been working closely with Formula One to oversee the delivery of the tournament and broadcast production.
John Clarke, Chief Executive Officer, Gfinity said: “We are excited to be involved in the delivery of the F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix series.
“At Gfinity, we are committed to delivering e-sports solutions for our partners and we are proud to be part of the series that will bring exciting entertainment-based virtual racing to a legion of Formula 1 and gaming fans around the globe.”
Until restrictions are lifted and the season gets underway again, each weekend a race is due to take place, a virtual race will be streamed instead using technology from the official F1 2019 PC video game, developed by Codemasters. The Việt Nam circuit is currently not available on the game so drivers will instead show off their skills on the Melbourne track.
Julian Tan, head of Digital Business Initiatives and E-sports, said: “We are very pleased to be able to bring some light relief in the form of the F1 E-sports Virtual GP, in these unpredictable times, as we hope to entertain fans missing the regular sporting action. With every major sports league in the world unable to compete, it is a great time to highlight the benefits of e-sports and the incredible skill that’s on show.”
Frank Sagnier, Chief Executive Officer, Codemasters, added: “We’re excited to be a part of the new F1 E-sports 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.”
F1 fans can see all the action from the virtual version of the Việt Nam Grand Prix via the F1 official YouTube, Facebook and Twitch channels at 8pm UK time on Saturday, which corresponds to 2am Monday morning in Việt Nam. — VNS