The Formula 1 motor-racing series has teamed up with Zoom to deliver its first-ever Virtual Paddock Club experience.

F1 will work with the video communications platform to provide new business opportunities through live-sport experiences. The deal has been signed ahead of this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

The F1 season had been due to get underway in March but the COVID-19 pandemic meant that it did not stage its first race until early July. The first eight races of the season are being held without the traditional in-person hospitality offerings, and F1 will work with Zoom to create these experiences virtually.

At the most recent race weekend in Austria, guests joined the Virtual Paddock Club through Zoom and were treated to experiences such as live updates and insight from F1 legends.

Further experiences will be created at future races, in line with FIA regulations. Zoom will provide an exclusive experience throughout the eight-race European season, while it will work with F1 to expand the Virtual Paddock Club to global partners of the series and F1 teams.

The Virtual Paddock Club builds on F1’s in-person Paddock Club offering, which provides fans with premium hospitality experiences at races. The Paddock Club offers guests a unique vantage point over team garages, with a clear view of the start and finish line and into the pit lane. Tickets are priced at $3,800 (£3,000/$3,300) for two days at European events.

Zoom’s partnership with F1 marks the platform’s first move into virtual hospitality experiences. The Financial Times reported that a “six-figure deal” has been signed and fans are not set to be charged for the experience.

Ben Pincus, director of commercial partnerships at F1, said: “We understood the opportunity Zoom presented to us, which was about delivering a live sporting experience for guests despite the fact much of sport is currently behind closed doors. Zoom by its very nature is about enabling and connecting businesses remotely and this partnership, which has been developed virtually, is an example of just that.

“We are excited to work with Zoom to continue to connect businesses and their VIPs through this virtual hospitality experience. We hope this will be the first of many innovations we roll out in the coming months for our partners. Over the past few months, through Project Pitlane and Virtual Grand Prix races, we have seen the ability to innovate is imperative as we collectively adapt to an environment that continues to evolve.”

Janine Pelosi, chief marketing officer of Zoom, added: “We at Zoom are thrilled to kick off the Virtual Paddock Club with Formula 1. During this challenging time, organisations such as Formula 1 still need to provide engaging experiences for fans and enterprises need to offer unique opportunities for their top prospects, and Zoom is here to help. The Virtual Paddock Club is the best way to recreate that VIP sports experience from home. Long run, there’s an opportunity for a hybrid virtual/in-person model so distance is no longer a barrier to sports hospitality.”

Image: Mugello Circuit