Esports has been something of a gift that keeps on giving during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s given racing fans the chance to see some of their favourite drivers in a whole new light.
The esports will continue on Sunday, with the next instalment of F1’s Virtual Racing Series at 1PM Eastern Time being broadcast live in the U.S. on ESPN.
But there’s been plenty of racing already this week, with the likes of Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris making the most of their free time by playing a variety of games online.
Here’s the best of this week’s online gaming action you might otherwise have missed.
A star is born?
Ferrari driver Leclerc has found plenty of variety in his racing games of choice recently. Leclerc, Alex Albon and George Russell spent hours on Euro Truck Simulator last week and this week the trio were having a virtual race lawnmower race.
As ever with F1 drivers, things turned competitive pretty quickly. Throughout the stream Leclerc was complaining about the ‘force feedback’ of the steering wheel on his gaming rig, which controls how dramatically the wheel reacts to events on track.
At one point, after losing control of his lawnmower, his steering wheel spun wildly on the axle. Leclerc laughed and imagined the headlines if he hadn’t let go.
“Oh my god the force feedback, it’s horrendous how bad it is. I am going to break my hand,” he said.
“Imagine that. Scuderia Ferrari driver to miss the first race after breaking his arm during a virtual lawnmower race. I would become a superstar!”
Just #F1 drivers racing virtual lawnmowers
That’s it, that’s the tweet.
🎥 @Charles_Leclerc @alex_albon @GeorgeRussell63 pic.twitter.com/2dFaZFmnA9
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 30, 2020
Charles racing with a virtual lawnmower and struggling 🤣@Charles_Leclerc : “I am going to break my hand. Imagine that. Scuderia Ferrari driver to miss the first race after breaking his arm during a virtual lawnmower race. I would become a superstar!”https://t.co/Hja90wZ0Rn pic.twitter.com/YrINvZIRz7
— Charles Leclerc Fan Page (@LeclercNews) April 29, 2020
Leclerc recently admitted how much he is enjoying being able to stream his online gaming on Twitch.
“Twitch is something I never thought I’d enjoy and I never saw myself doing,” he said during a Ferrari online press conference. “But actually I really enjoyed it. For the people that follow me, I think it’s the closest you can get to the real me.
“At a track, it’s different, there’s pressure, things like this, so to be yourself is a bit different. But playing with all the other drivers, and friends, we’ve been friends for a long time, with Lando, George, Alex, so we can be ourselves and I enjoy it a lot more than I thought.”
We’ve all been there. You put something in the oven and then start doing something else… naturally you forget about the first thing you did.
This happened to Norris, last year’s F1 rookie of the year, during a game of Call of Duty: War Zone.
While in a lobby between games, Norris, who was mid-sentence about something else, checks the time and bursts out of his seat.
“Holy crap, my food’s in the oven! Holy crap!”
🎥 | And he’s done it again… 🙈@LandoNorris forgot his food was in the oven 😂#L4NDO #LN4 #F1 pic.twitter.com/kQpQY6IP6C
— Lando Norris Updates (@LandoUpdates) April 29, 2020
So what’s still to come?
The online gaming will continue on Sunday with the next instalment of F1’s virtual racing offering. It is being broadcast live on ESPN, with races at 12pm and 1.30pm.
In place of what would have been the Dutch Grand Prix, F1 is bringing together racing drivers, professional racers, athletes from other sports and content creators for a spectacle on Sunday.
Confirmed F1 drivers taking part: Charles Leclerc, Alexander Albon, Antonio Giovinazzi, George Russell, Nicholas Latifi.
Lando Norris appears to have lost patience with the VRS after having technical issues at every event so far. Norris won an iRacing INdyCar challenge last weekend and he is expected to do another event at Indianapolis.
From the wider sports world, AC Milan captain Alessio Romagnoli is making his esports debut for Alpha Tauri alongside cricketer Ben Stokes. British Olympic legend Chris Hoy is also taking part, while Ralf Schumacher’s son David is competing for the first time.