Formula 1 has launched a Virtual Grand Prix series that will be run in place of postponed races featuring a host of “current F1 drivers”.

Amid the global spread of coronavirus, the opening seven races on this year’s calendar have been called off, which has resulted in the 2020 season being delayed until June at the earliest.

To replace the real life grand prix’s, virtual races will enable fans to watch drivers from the current grid line up against select star guests.

Every race weekend, beginning with the Virtual Bahrain Grand Prix on March 22, will see each postponed race run as a virtual event.

The initiative is currently due to last until the end of May, with a view to extending this deadline if the pandemic results in further cancellations/postponements to real-life races.

“We are very pleased to be able to bring some light relief in the form of the F1 Esports Virtual GP, in these unpredictable times, as we hope to entertain fans missing the regular sporting action,” said Esports chief Julian Tan.

“With every major sports league in the world unable to compete, it is a great time to highlight the benefits of esports and the incredible skill that’s on show.”

The series will use Codemasters’ F1 2019 game, with races expected to last up to 1 hour 30 minutes, run at 50% in length, with qualifying sessions to determine grid positions.

Game settings will include equal car performance with fixed setups, reduced vehicle damage, and optional anti-lock brakes and traction control all open to participants who want them.

This weekend’s race will be staged at the Gfinity Esports Arena from 8:00pm  (GMT), with a live broadcast on the official F1 YouTube, Twitch and Facebook channels.