F1 claims 30m TV and digital views for Virtual Grand Prix series

The Formula 1 motor racing series has announced that its recently-concluded Virtual Grand Prix series attracted 30 million views across TV and digital platforms.

The series, which was created following the suspension of the F1 season due to the Covid-19 pandemic, recorded 21.8 million viewers on digital platforms alone, including the official F1 YouTube, Twitch and Facebook channels, as well as Weibo and Huya in China.

Formula 1 said that, according to TV viewership estimates, the virtual series accumulated a further five million views through broadcasters in over 100 countries.

Eleven Formula 1 drivers competed in at least one race during the series, which was also contested by other sports stars such as golfer Ian Poulter and footballer Thibaut Courtois. F1 drivers Charles Leclerc, George Russell, Lando Norris (pictured) and Alex Albon also streamed races on their personal Twitch accounts, reaching an additional 2.7 million viewers, according to TwitchTracker.

The series debuted on March 22 with the Virtual Bahrain Grand Prix, which attracted a peak live audience of 395,000 concurrent viewers across Facebook, Twitch and YouTube, according to esports analysis company Esports Charts.

The second race, which was titled the Virtual Vietnam Grand Prix but took place on the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne, was the number one trending video on YouTube in the UK on the day of the event. F1 had three of the top five sports videos on YouTube in the ‘the big five’ European markets (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK) between March 15 and April 28, with the second and fifth most popular videos being virtual grands prix.

The series was also streamed live on the F1.com website and by rights-holding broadcasters, including pay-television operator Sky in the UK.

The success of the series led to a 1,000 per cent month-on-month growth in streaming hours for the official F1 2019 video game, which was developed by Codemasters.

The delayed F1 season is due to start on July 5 with the Austrian Grand Prix.