With the real Formula 1 season currently on hold, the F1 Esports Series has taken centre stage to provide the action. Professional F1 drivers, retired drivers, gamers and celebrities compete in a series of races around the virtual F1 calendar. Read to inform your F1 Esports betting knowledge
F1 Esports explained
Using Codemasters Official F1 2019 PC video game, this virtual Grand Prix series was designed to mirror and replace the currently postponed real life F1 schedule to give fans and bettors a chance to continue to watch competitive racing.
In the traditional competitive F1 Esports series, drivers are determined via a series of qualifying events across multiple circuits in various weather conditions and without the use of any driving assists.
It must be stressed that this series is not a part of the competitive F1 Esports series and is more a friendly exhibition featuring a range of people with contrasting driving and gaming experience.
As a result of the mixed range of abilities, each car is set-up equally in a fixed set-up and in some cases, for those who need it, driving assists are in place to bridge the gap in skill. Each race will last 28 laps, less in some instances, with a round of qualifying to determine grid positions for the start of the race.
With one race in the series already complete, what are the lessons to be learnt moving forward for bettors?
Bahrain race re-cap
The first race of the Virtual Grand Prix series took place on March 22 around the Bahrain International Circuit. It featured 19 drivers in what was a very eventful race, as you can see below.
Among the 19 participants were current Formula 1 drivers Lando Norris and Nicholas Latifi, reserve drivers Esteban Gutierrez and Stoffel Vandoorne, as well as former F1 driver Nico Hülkenburg. They were joined by a range of Formula 2 and Academy drivers, other professional drivers, content creators, sportsmen and celebrities such as Sir Chris Hoy, Ian Poulter and Liam Payne.
Six-time Cycling Gold Medallist Sir Chris Hoy, professional golfer Ian Poulter and singer Liam Payne were the bottom three drivers, highlighting that despite the same set-up and assists, the gap in racing/gaming ability was evident.
Although the purpose of this series is for entertainment, there appears to be a real competitive edge between the drivers which should lead to exciting racing in future Virtual Grand Prix’s.
When is the next F1 Esports race?
The next race is set to take place on Sunday April 5 around the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.
Despite the difference in experience levels between the competitors, the highly volatile nature of Virtual F1 means that at any given moment a driver can be taken out by another competitor.
We saw this at the start of the Bahrain race as Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Guiterrez got their rear tyres clipped early on, ruining their chance of winning whilst Lando Norris was clipped by Jimmy Broadbent on the final lap to deny him a top four position.
This volatility makes betting on a driver who is better at avoiding trouble and drives the ‘cleanest’, a greater option as they will likely finish higher up the standings.
That being said, through no fault of the driver, they can be taken out of the race by another driver which makes picking the winner a more difficult objective.
Who will be competing?
Barring any last-minute changes or technical difficulties, the grid should consist mostly of the same drivers as that competed around the Bahrain circuit.
Lando Norris’ technical difficulties meant his car was controlled by the AI for the first half of the race. Once he did take over, Norris surged up the order and was only denied a top four spot, behind the other experienced F1 drivers, by being spun off the grid.
Norris along with the winner Guanyu Zhou, Vandoorne, Phillip Eng, Guiterrez, Lafiti and Hulkenburg will all be vying to win the next race as professional current and former F1 and F2 drivers.
Who are the favourites?
Team Renault (4.000*) represented by the winner of Bahrain Guanyu Zhou and Ian Poulter are the current favourites to win in Melbourne, with Lando Norris and Nicholas Hamilton’s McLaren team currently priced at (5.000*).
The F1 test driver duo of Esteban Guiterrez and Stoffel Vandoorne in the Mercedes are currently third favourites at (6.000*) with Phillip Eng’s Red Bull, Nico Hulkenburg’s Racing Point and Nicholas Latifi’s Williams are all priced at (7.000*).
Zhou, Norris and Eng are all vastly experienced inside the car and in a ‘sim racing’ scenario, which could give them the edge as the top three contenders to win in Melbourne.
Visit our full list of F1 Virtual Grand Prix odds.