Williams Formula 1 duo George Russell and Nicholas Latifi headline the first batch of driver announcements for the opening event of the returning Virtual Grand Prix series.

F1 has revived its Esports series for three events on consecutive weekends, beginning with a race at the Red Bull Ring this weekend on Sunday 31 January.

Russell, who was crowned the unofficial Virtual GP series champion during the lockdown period amid the wait for the start of the delayed 2020 F1 season, and his real-life Williams teammate are the first two F1 drivers to have been confirmed as participating in the first event.

After being dropped by the F1 team for the upcoming 2021 season, Red Bull reserve Alex Albon will team up with Red Bull-backed Dutch motocross rider Jeffrey Herlings, while former F1 drivers Stoffel Vandoorne and Tonio Luizzi return to compete for Mercedes and AlphaTauri respectively.

Ferrari juniors Arthur Leclerc - brother of F1 driver Charles - and F2 racer Marcus Armstrong form the Scuderia’s line-up for the first event.

The rebranded Alpine squad will field two of its academy drivers in the shape of Christian Lundgaard and reigning Formula 3 champion Oscar Piastri, with Pietro Fittipaldi and brother Enzo representing Haas.

Virtual GP regular and Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois will return to race for Alfa Romeo, with the rest of the line-up set to be announced in the coming days.

Following the Austria opener, Silverstone will play host to the second round on 7 February before the mini championship concludes on 14 February at Interlagos.

A charity prize fund of $100,000 is up for grabs for the team who collects the most championship points across the three rounds to donate to a charity of their choosing.

 

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