The 2003 FIA World Rally champion, 2014 and 2015 FIA World Rallycross champion Petter Solberg from Norway made a positive eSports debut in Formula 1 during the weekend, claiming a twelfth position alongside F1 drivers, eSports racers and other sports stars.
Solberg managed to stay within the top 10 for most of the race at the ‘Dutch Grand Prix‘ in which was using Codemasters F1 2019 game.
The track would have made its debut on the 2020 Formula 1 season but as the ongoing Coronavirus crisis made it impossible to host the race, leading to a decision to postpone the Dutch Grand Prix at the Zandvoort Circuit.
Instead Formula 1 is hosted an eSports series over the race weekend, but as the circuit isn’t featured in the game, fans voted for the Interlagos Circuit in Brazil to become the virtual host of the Dutch Grand Prix.
This was the first competitive taste for Solberg in a Formula 1 car, as he made his debut in the Renault DP World F1 team‘s R.S 19 car for the competition and after the 36 laps around the famous Brazilian circuit, he was smiling.
“That was so much fun, I really enjoyed it, but it was so, so intense. I came from finishing sixth in [The Race] Legends Trophy and this was on another level. It was incredible.” Solberg said.
Like in real-life, the sim racers who are racing the virtual F1 cars have to look out for tyre wear, something that Solberg wasn’t doing well with.
“I was probably too hard on the tyres, I was pushing, but I was taking a lot of understeer at the end of the first stint. It was tough, you know. I did two days’ practice, but if I was going to do it again I would need to make more time on the sim. It was a great race, I was really fighting with some of the other drivers.”
“I tested a Ferrari F1 car and an LMP1, but these guys are so quick on this race. If possible I would want my lap times to be a little bit lower. I’m starting to understand where I can be quicker, but I have some work to do!”
“I want to thank Esteban Ocon and Christian Lundgaard for helping me out but we need to arrange a proper training camp if I am to do any more races.” Solberg added.
“I want to say a big thanks to the Renault DP World F1 team and everybody behind the Formula 1 Esports series, it’s a great thing they’re doing for drivers and fans all around the world. Right now there’s not always so much for a lot of people to smile about, but this racing is really giving people some fun.”
Red Bull’s Alex Albon won the event, Solberg’s Renault DP World F1 team-mate Christian Luundgard from Formula 2 finished sixth overall.