Ah, number-crunching. Sometimes it’s a chore, sometimes it’s cause for a headache. But these numbers? We like. We’re here to break down the digits and data that highlight just how awesome the Virtual Grand Prix series has been. Grab some popcorn, and maybe a calculator…
11: CURRENT F1 DRIVERS INVOLVED
Of the drivers on the 2020 Formula 1 grid, more than half took part in a Virtual Grand Prix. The three musketeers (that’s George Russell, Charles Leclerc and Alex Albon if you didn’t know) were almost ever-present throughout the series, as well as Nicholas Latifi, Antonio Giovinazzi, and Lando Norris – with a fleeting appearance from LandoBOT too. But as well as these mainstays, appearances from Carlos Sainz, Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Ocon, Sergio Perez and Pierre Gasly really helped to merge the worlds of virtual and physical F1.
The most populated races were Azerbaijan and Monaco, which heralded eight F1 drivers apiece. With nearly half the grid made up of prime F1 superstars, it’s surely only a matter of time before everyone else realises what they’re missing out on.
30 MILLION: TOTAL VIEWS
Including F1’s live streams on Facebook, YouTube and Twitch, driver streams, and estimated TV figures, the Virtual Grand Prix series was seen more than 30 million times around the world. If you mix in social coverage, including Twitter, Instagram, and China channels Huya and Weibo? That number rises to 85 million. That’s a whole lot of eyeballs!
14: POSITIONS GAINED
Johnny Herbert. Three-time F1 race winner, Sky F1 broadcaster, and Virtual GP legend. In his first digital race in Bahrain, he managed to make up 14 positions in ONE CORNER. Qualifying a lowly P15, the ex-Benetton man managed to emerge out of Turn 2 with the lead of the race. Whether or not it was done legally? We’ll let you decide…
69: DIFFERENT DRIVERS
The VGP series saw people from all walks of life competing. With 11 F1 drivers (see above) and 10 from the FIA Formula 2 and Formula 3 Championships, there was a strong bond with the Road To F1.
We were also graced with drivers from other forms of motorsport, with Aussie V8 Supercars star Andre Heimgartner lining up for Renault, as well as 2003 WRC champion Petter Solberg, and sportscar racer Philipp Eng. Ex-F1 racer and current Formula E racer Stoffel Vandoorne was also a frequent flyer, taking part in four races, and on-track rival Nico Prost joined in in Monaco as well.
A variety of sports stars also plied their trade. There was no shortage of football superstardom on offer. Sergio Aguero struck high in Spain, Arthur Melo ran comfortably in the midfield, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang let his pace loose in Monaco. Aymeric Laporte, Ciro Immobile, Giangluigi Donnarumma, and the ever-present Thibaut Courtois all put in some stellar performances as well.
The world of golf gave us the always-entertaining Ian Poulter, cricket royalty Ben Stokes and Stuart Broad stepped up to the crease, and cycling hero Sir Chris Hoy went for a spin for Red Bull in Bahrain. In fact, Red Bull boasted drivers from some seriously diverse backgrounds, including surfer Kai Lenny, skier-turned-YouTuber Jon Olsson, and Dakar Rally bike champion Matthias Walkner.
International music superstars Liam Payne, Luis Fonsi, and Simon Neil all put on a show to remember, racing one event each for Williams, Racing Point and AlphaTauri respectively.
695 MILLION: SOCIAL MEDIA IMPRESSIONS
You liked, retweeted, you shared. Whether it was Charles Leclerc tricking the studio presenters with a voice-changer, Johnny Herbert cutting Turn 1 in Bahrain, or simply the race highlights, VGP content racked up almost 700 million feed views across the series as a whole. What was your favourite social post? Let us know!
2.7 MILLION: DRIVER TWITCH VIEWS
Ever think you’d see an F1 race-winner playing video games in a banana costume? Or a Formula 2 champion rolling a semi-articulated truck? Yeah, same…
Thanks to the magic of Twitch streaming, many have found new hobbies and things to do during down-time. And when they weren’t busy playing other games, the F1 drivers on Twitch – that’s Leclerc, Albon, Russell, Latifi and Norris – racked up an immense total of 2.7 million views while streaming the Virtual Grand Prix.
We’re certainly going to miss the drivers making fun of each other mid-race when F1 returns!
185: TOTAL POINTS SCORED
Eight races, and a lotta points dished out. A standard Grand Prix weekend has 102 points on offer, with 101 for the top 10 finishers, and a bonus point for the driver who scoops the fastest lap. On one occasion, the fastest lap was scored by a driver outside the top 10 in a VGP.
That was Louis Deletraz during Baku, but considering he had already completed two races in F2 Virtual Racing, spectacularly winning the final one on the line, we can sympathise with the busy schedule!
FOUR: RACE WINNERS
Four different winners in the first five races? We dig.
The Virtual Bahrain Grand Prix was crushed by Renault Sport Academy and Formula 2 sensation Guanyu Zhou. But then came the turn of the F1 drivers, with Charles Leclerc turning up in Australia and taking the win straight away. It was a similar case in China, before Alex Albon got his turn at the front after a stupendous race-long squabble with Leclerc in Brazil.
By now, you’ll know that George Russell swept the latter half of the races, taking a quartet of consecutive victories in Spain, Monaco, Azerbaijan and Canada. Which means…
Okay, maybe the word champion is a bit deceiving. The VGP series was never a bona fide championship. With so many different faces popping in and out, the table would take some serious time to get through. But as main contenders started to emerge, it became clear that there was a breakaway group that consistently put on a heck of show.
George Russell and Williams, come on down. Winning four races in a row is remarkable, whether it be virtual or on-track. It’s testament to immense effort and top-notch preparation on the part of Russell, and Williams too.
And while their victories are still fresh in the memory, there’s not much time to let it sink in. The numbers we look to now are those that tell us how long until racing resumes. With less than two weeks to go until lights out in Austria, preparations are in top gear – but we’ll always remember the Virtual Grand Prix series fondly!
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