Petter Solberg will headline this weekend’s Virtual Grand Prix event at Interlagos alongside a host of current Formula 1 drivers and global sporting stars.
This weekend was set to play host to the first Dutch Grand Prix since 1985 only a newly revamped Zandvoort circuit. But the event became one of many Grands Prix postponed as the Covid-19 pandemic put a halt on the start of the world championship.
Because the Zandvoort circuit is not available on the F1 2019 video game that the virtual series runs, the field will instead head to Interlagos, home of the Brazilian Grand Prix, as voted by fans earlier in the week.
F1 has already confirmed that Red Bull’s Alexander Albon, Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi, Williams teammates Nicholas Latifi and George Russell, and Scuderia Ferrari pilot Charles Leclerc will all feature in this weekend’s event.
Though one of the major players set to make his virtual debut will be 2003 World Rally title winner Petter Solberg.
The Norwegian Rally legend will join the Renault F1 team for the event, teaming alongside ardent sim-racer and Formula 2 driver Christian Lundgaard.
“We are all changing the way we do things while the world is like it is and I’m really looking forward to driving with Christian,” said Solberg.
“His father Henrik and I competed against each other when we were younger, so I’m happy my teammate is coming from a good rallying family. Like everything I will give this 110% and do my best. When we do something, we do it with just one aim: to win.”
Outside of motorsport and the once again the virtual Grand Prix draws in a handful of global sporting stars.
England cricketer Stuart Broad and AC Milan football club captain Alessio Romagnoli will join the AlphaTauri outfit, while New Zealand-born turned England Cricket star Ben Stokes has also confirmed his spot on the grid for Sunday’s race.
Since launching the Virtual GP series back in March, an estimated 16 million people have tuned in across the first three virtual races.
“We are delighted that so many fans are watching and engaging with the F1 Esports Virtual Grands Prix,” said Julian Tan, F1’s Head of Digital Business Initiatives and Esports.
“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.”
Drivers will take part in a short qualifying session followed by a 28-lap race starting at 4 am NZT. The event will be livestreamed via the official Formula 1 Facebook and YouTube accounts.
A full grid including more F1 talent is expected to be announced shortly.