FORMULA ONE filled the void left by cancelled sporting events due to the coronavirus, as over 280,00 viewers watched a virtual Bahrain GP online.
In a mixed grid of drivers, from McLaren’s Lando Norris to singer Liam Payne and golfer Ian Poulter, Formula 2 driver, Guanyu Zhou took the chequered flag.
Over 170,000 people watched F1’s YouTube link while Norris attracted up to 110,000 viewers on his Twitch channel.
The race was also shown on Sky’s F1 and Main Event channel, as a shortened race distance replaced what should have been the Bahrain GP.
Sure, it was not the same as a real race, but it was fun nonetheless and cheered people up in the middle of this pandemic.
The huge viewing figures will also be encouraging for F1 bosses, who latched on to the idea after SunSport suggested it following the cancellation of the Chinese GP.
All the settings were dialed down to ensure a level playing field while Norris had problems in qualifying and at the start of the race when his computer crashed.
The McLaren driver was the real start of the show as he kept his viewers entertained by calling Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and McLaren teammate Carlos Sainz and Williams’ George Russell.
He recovered to finish fifth after a final lap crash with sim-racer Jimmy Broadbent while Mercedes Formula E driver, Stoffel Vandoorne was second.
The next race will be in two weeks where F1 will run the virtual Australian GP after that race was scrapped on March 13 following a covid-19 outbreak.