Nico Rosberg reveals why he will not race Charles Leclerc and co as F1 turns to esports


Nico Rosberg is gutted he won’t be able to compete against the likes of Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris this weekend as F1 stars return to the virtual track. The 2016 champion will simply take in the action from home because he doesn’t have an esports racing rig at his disposal.

Leclerc and Norris will face off on Sunday in the latest race of the F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix series.

The respective Ferrari and McLaren drivers will compete on the Australian Grand Prix’s Albert Park Circuit, where the real-world season was meant to kick off last month.

The F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix series has been created to help make up for the eight races which have been called off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Leclerc and Norris’ contemporaries Alexander Albon, George Russell, Nicholas Latifi and Antonio Giovinazzi will also be getting involved, with 2009 champion Jenson Button set to join in as he represents McLaren.

Rosberg won’t be taking part, though, and the former Mercedes driver has revealed why from lockdown at his property in Ibiza.

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“I can just say that it’s incredible how far this virtual racing has come,” Rosberg said during an appearance on Sky Sports News on Thursday afternoon. “It’s just really fun to watch.

“It’s super entertaining. I can only recommend to all of you F1 fans to take a look, even if you think: ‘oh, I’m not going to like that’. You’ll be surprised. It’s just great – very, very enjoyable. There’s great action, great battles.

“I think it’s nice that a lot of the F1 drivers as well are getting involved. And if I was still a driver I would have certainly been involved.

“Even today, I would have been involved, but there’s no way for me to be involved because I have no equipment here and I can’t get out of the house to organise some kind of simulator or a steering wheel, otherwise I would join as well. But, no chance.”

Leclerc and co. are using esports to keep themselves ticking over with the start of the 2020 F1 season now delayed until at least June.

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The 10 F1 teams are all closing their factories for three weeks after the annual shutdown period was brought forward from August.

Engineers and designers are putting their technological expertise to good use in the meantime, with the seven UK-based F1 teams helping to develop equipment for the fight against coronavirus as part of Project Pitlane.

Rosberg has hailed that work from Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren, Renault, Racing Point, Haas and Williams.

“I think that’s been the greatest evidence of how unbelievably good F1 teams are in engineering and how they really lead the way,” Rosberg said.

“Mercedes now, for example, are able to develop a breathing aid in that short timeframe which really is going to help potentially save so many lives.

“I’m super proud of that, that our sport and my former team is able to do that is really, really awesome.”

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