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Virtual Grand Prix mash-up a hit - Herbert

Virtual Grand Prix mash-up a hit - Herbert

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Virtual Grand Prix mash-up a hit - Herbert

Virtual Grand Prix mash-up a hit - Herbert

Johnny Herbert believes the celebrity mix of Formula 1's first Virtual Grand Prix added to the event's entertainment value.

Over 280,000 viewers watched Sunday's race around the Sakhir International Circuit in Bahrain through various platforms.

Although only two current F1 drivers in McLaren's Lando Norris and Williams rookie Nicolas Latifi signed up, professional gamers and the likes of Olympic cycling champion Sir Chris Hoy, Ryder Cup winner Ian Poulter and One Direction singer Liam Payne also took part.

"There was a diversity of guys, and because of that, it made the entertainment side of it really good," Herbert told GPFans.

"If you had the current grid racing would that be as much fun as having a Sir Chris Hoy? Probably not. He's a petrol-head anyway, with Ian Poulter the same, and for me, that added to it because it was other people getting involved.

"So I thought it was very good, and when I watched it back I thought the same."

The former F1 driver and Sky Sports F1 pundit has revealed he was only given a day and a half of practice once he took possession of the simulator, and found difficulties with the settings that changed from the practice runs compared to qualifying and the race.

"The only thing I would like to have done is for it to be made easier for the likes of myself, Ian and Sir Chris, so at least we can be in the mix," added Herbert.

"The problem is that when we received the sim, I did my testing on a certain setting, with a few other settings I added in, but then when we went to the car for qualifying it was completely different, so I was all over the place.

"As you know, real racing drivers adapt to a rhythm, be it wet or dry, and this was exactly the same as I had built up a rhythm with something I had practised on for a day and a half, but then I got into something for qualifying that, as I say, was completely different, so to adapt to that was very hard."

Herbert was involved in one of the more entertaining moments of the race when he completely cut out turn one to avoid an accident and ended up briefly taking the lead.

"People were saying there was going to be a big shunt at turn one, so I thought 'I'm not going to get involved in that'," said Herbert.

"I decided I'd turn right a bit earlier. I got a 10-second penalty, but it was worth it. Stuff like that, all the crashing, added to the whole thing."

Herbert plans to be involved in the next virtual race, the Australian Grand Prix in early April.

"I've still got the sim because obviously now they can't pick it up," said Herbert, referring to the lockdown. "Now I've got some proper practice time, so hopefully, I'll be doing the next one."

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