Sport Supercars driver Andre Heimgartner earns F1 drive for Renault … in Eseries
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Supercars driver Andre Heimgartner earns F1 drive for Renault … in Eseries

Andre Heimgartner, in practice at the Newcastle 500 in November 2019, is taking on the next best thing. Photo: AAP
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Supercars rising star Andre Heimgartner has earned a drive for Formula One outfit Renault … in the virtual racing Eseries, that is.

With the first eight scheduled races of the year either cancelled or postponed due to coronavirus, including last month’s Australian Grand Prix, Formula One has launched a star-studded online Eseries, which will continue on Monday (AEDT).

Ford gun Heimgartner has been hand-picked to contest the second round, which will include current F1 drivers Charles Leclerc, Alex Albon, George Russell, Lando Norris and Nicholas Latifi and expected to attract millions of online viewers.

England cricketer Ben Stokes has also added to the star power with more celebrities to be unveiled in the coming days.

Golfer Ian Poulter, British cycling great Chris Hoy, former One Direction singer Liam Payne and ex-F1 driver Nico Hulkenberg took part in last month’s opener which had an international audience of 5.8 million online views and 169 million social media impressions.

Heimgartner got the nod after having his name put forward by his Supercars outfit Kelly Racing’s partner BP-Castrol, which is also a major backer for Australian Daniel Ricciardo’s F1 team Renault.

New Zealand’s Heimgartner, 24, said it would be surreal taking on F1 drivers online.

“I think it’s every young driver’s dream to race in Formula 1 and to get to do it online against some of the best in the world will be something I’ll never forget,” he said.

“I’ve got a bit of Eracing experience which I think will help, but it will be interesting to see how different it is compared to Supercars.

“I’m grateful to BP-Castrol for putting my name forward and hopefully I do Supercars and everyone at Kelly Racing proud. I’m looking forward to it.”

Each virtual race will run in place of every postponed grand prix, with the March 22 opener held instead of the Bahrain round.

Monday’s race is supposed to run instead of the postponed Vietnam Grand Prix, but the Eseries second round will be held on a track based on Melbourne’s Albert Park.

The race will begin at 6am on Monday AEDT and broadcast live in Australia and New Zealand.

The Eseries is currently scheduled to run until May.

Heimgartner will use the F1 hitout as valuable practice before the Supercars competition launches its 10-week Eseries starting on April 8.

-AAP