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Real Madrid goalkeeper Courtois takes part in virtual Formula 1 Grand Prix

8:29 am AEDT 23/3/20
Thibaut Courtois Real Madrid
The Belgium international is swapping his real-life goalkeeping gloves for virtual driving ones

Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is filling the sporting void caused by the coronavirus pandemic by taking part in a Formula 1 Virtual Racing Series.

There has been a near total shutdown of sporting events across the global in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, with football and Formula 1 no exception.

The La Liga season was suspended earlier this month, with president Javier Tebas hoping for a return in mid-May at the earliest.

The Formula 1 season meanwhile has yet to get underway, with the first six races of the season either postponed or cancelled altogether. The authorities have yet to decide on a start date but hope the situation will have eased in time for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in June.

In the meantime, Formula 1 have decided to host a virtual competition featuring professional drivers as well as other sporting stars, esports drivers and celebrities.

It was devised by esports company Veloce, co-founded Formula E champion Jean Eric Vergne, who in the space of 48 hours managed to organise a virtual Australian Grand Prix last weekend.

It proved a huge success, attracting more than two million views online, prompting organisers to expand the event into a series.

Not The Bah GP is a virtual race based on the Bahrain Grand Prix, which was due to take place this weekend, with Courtois swapping his goalkeeping gloves for driving ones.

He is joined by some current F1 stars including Williams’ Nicholas Latifi and McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Former F1 drivers Nico Hulkenberg, Stoffel Vandoorne and Esteban Gutierrez, as well as Ferrari Driver Academy members Robert Shwartzman and Dino Beganovic are also taking part.

Away from motorsport, five-time Ryder Cup-winning golfer Ian Poulter and seven-time Olympic gold-medallist Sir Chris Hoy are also getting behind the virtual wheel, as is former One Direction singer Liam Payne.

Courtois isn’t the only footballer taking to e-sports during the sporting lockdown.

Gareth Bale and Jordan Pickford are among the footballers set to play in a FIFA 20 tournament livestreamed around the world to help raise funds to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Wales international and England duo headline a star-studded list of players who will be involved in the 'Combat Corona' initiative, as they square off in aid of several charities combating the coronavirus pandemic around the globe.