LONDON (Reuters) – Singer-songwriter Luis Fonsi, who broke all-time streaming records with his 2017 hit ‘Despacito’ (slowly), is joining the Formula One fast stream for a virtual Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday.
The Miami-based Puerto Rican will line up in Racing Point colours in a field with eight regular F1 drivers, including Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc who will still be a home favourite on simulated streets.
Mercedes Valtteri Bottas, last year’s world championship runner-up behind six times champion team mate Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes, and Renault’s Esteban Ocon will be making their virtual debuts.
Hamilton, winner in the principality from pole last year, is not taking part in an event that is mainly for fun but with some bragging rights.
The live-streamed virtual race comes on the weekend that was scheduled for the Formula One showcase, absent from the calendar for the first time since 1954 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Formula One last raced in December but is hoping to get its delayed season going in Austria without spectators in July.
Bottas, whose instagram feed has given an insight into his training and recreational activities at home in Finland, will partner Mercedes’ Mexican reserve Esteban Gutierrez.
Ocon lines up with Nicolas Prost, son of four times world champion Alain, for Renault.
The other F1 drivers competing are Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo), Lando Norris (McLaren), Monaco-based Thai Alex Albon (Red Bull) and the Williams pairing of George Russell and Nicholas Latifi.
Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang joins Norris in McLaren’s lineup while Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois returns with Alfa Romeo.
Motorcycle rider Luca Salvadori will race for AlphaTauri while former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher’s son David joins Fonsi at Racing Point and Hawaiian pro surfer Kai Lenny comes on board for Red Bull.
All will be racing from their homes on simulators.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)