George Russell Wins Virtual F1 Canadian GP

By Ben Hamill - June 18 2020

George Russell Wins Virtual F1 Canadian GP

On Sunday, British racing driver George Russell secured a fourth successive virtual Formula One victory for team Williams. And with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc absent, Russell easily beat Red Bull’s Alex Albon into a neat second place finish in the virtual Formula One Canadian Grand Prix. Montreal teammate Nicholas Latifi finished in 7th place. The race would have meant a great deal to Latifi, as it took place on the day the real-world Montreal race would have taken place had it not been postponed. The race was live broadcast on Formula One’s digital platforms.

Sim racing has practically been filling the gap caused by a global health crisis. But more than that, its proven ability to engage fans in exciting new ways is according to F1 Managing Director of Motorsport, Ross Brawn, something that needs to be emulated once real-world racing commences.

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Fans Want More

Brawn is of course right on the money in his understanding of the situation as F1 fans have made no secret of their wanting to know more about drivers that what they’ve traditionally had access to. Its no longer enough to catch a glimpse of a driver in a car, with a helmet on, or even being interviewed by a major sports broadcaster. What fans really want to know is how those drivers live, what they do when they aren’t racing and what their day-to-day lives and characters are like.

What’s really boosted the engagement with virtual Formula One racing is that drivers like George Russell and Alexander Albon are real-world F1 racers. Had it not been for esports’ approach to fan engagement, fans would probably not have come to learn quite as much about these drivers and their personalities as what they recently did. It’s been e-racing’s number one useful element so far, and given the correct approach, Brawn believes it could be for real-world F1 racing too. 

It’s A Lasting Legacy

What’s more, even though Sunday’s race was the final race ahead of the start of the real season, the Formula 1 Esports Series (which was established back in 2017) continues to run. What’s proved a successful virtual Grand Prix run now means even more time and money invested in future virtual racing. The gigantic positives witnessed in virtual Formula One racing is according to Ross Brawn something real world F1 racing won’t want to let go of.

Fan engagement has always been where the real money has been at. And virtual Formula One racing has just shown real world F1 exactly how to befriend the goose that lays the golden eggs.

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