F1 launches Virtual Racing Series to replace postponed races

'Very refreshing' to hear Hamilton challenge F1 (0:49)

The ESPN F1 Podcast team praise Lewis Hamilton for his criticism of the delayed decision to postpone the Australian Grand Prix. (0:49)

Formula One has launched a Virtual Racing Series to fill the delay to the 2020 season caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The first six races of F1's season have been postponed, with Monaco Grand Prix organisers making the decision to cancel their event outright. A start date for the new F1 season is hard to predict but championship bosses hope to begin with the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in June.

In the meantime, F1 will host an esports competition. The series, run on a PC version of the Codemasters F1 2019 game with drivers playing remotely, will begin with a race of Bahrain's Sakhir International Circuit, which was supposed to host the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 22.

F1 has yet to confirm which drivers will take part, but says they will compete "alongside a host of stars to be announced in due course".

Due to the differing levels of skill that will be involved, game settings will be configured in such a way to encourage competitive and entertaining racing. The Bahrain race will be run at 50 percent distance and include qualifying and race sessions.

F1 also clarified that no world championship points will be offered in the series.

Fans will be spoiled for choice in terms of online racing this weekend. Veloce Sports will look to build on its successful "Not the Australian GP" from March 15, which broke streaming records on Twitch and featured McLaren driver Lando Norris and Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

Norris will take part in Veloce's follow-up event, "Not the Bahrain GP," on the same day as F1's first event. The Race has also hosted a replacement event, the first of which featured Red Bull's Max Verstappen.