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For the second year in a row, a Formula 1 initiative allows young fans of this motorsport, prevented by illness or disability, to experience the thrill of the F1 Grands Prix as if they were there, at the heart of the event thanks to telepresence robots deployed by Awabot. Meetings with the drivers, visits of the paddock, trips on the starting grid… this weekend, during the kick-off of the 2023 F1 season at the Sakhir racetrack, more than twenty-five youths had an amazing time in Bahrain!

Privileged Meeting with the Drivers Thanks to Telepresence

After a successful first F1 season in 2022 for our telepresence robots, this year Formula 1 is going all out to make the discipline even more inclusive. Ewan and Charlie, two English fans aged 13 and 14 respectively, had the immense privilege of spending some time one-on-one with the two-time F1 world champion Max Verstappen and his RedBull teammate Sergio Perez. But that’s not all, the new pair of French drivers Alpine, formed by Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly, was also there, as well as the Alfa Romeo duo Zhou Guanyu and Valterri Bottas.

The families of the two young boys, followed by the British association Make a Wish, could not express how much their children appreciated this Formula 1 initiative.

“Charlie has had an amazing couple of days! He literally hasn’t stopped smiling and keeps talking about the drivers he has talked to. The experience has been the most surreal yet incredible thing that has happened for Charlie and he’s going to treasure these amazing memories for the rest of his life”.

Charlie’s mother

“When we told Ewan that he was going to have the opportunity to virtually meet some of his Formula 1 heroes, he was stunned. The interviews with the drivers went perfectly. We have a record of the moment Ewan first saw Max Verstappen on the screen and it is joyous to watch! Ewan will remember this experience for a very long time, as will we”.

Ewan’s parents

Why Were There Robots at the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix?

If the presence of robots moving around the motorhomes can sometimes surprise the visitors on site, the Formula 1 initiative is driven by a real and concrete ambition to make F1 more accessible and inclusive. The objective is clear: to open the doors of this discipline to young fans who would not be able to go to the Grand Prix due to their social and physical conditions. 

Telepresence robots are the ideal technology to allow F1 fans to wander around the paddock and discover the impressive motorhomes and cars recently unveiled by the teams. Some of the kids who were connected even had the chance to go on the starting grid of the Sahkir circuit during the traditional Grid Walks on Saturday for the F2 and F3 categories, but also on Sunday during the Drivers Parade ahead of the F1 race. Extraordinary moments for these young Formula 1 fans who have been following this sport from their television screens for years, sometimes assiduously every weekend.

“Even if initially I’m not really into F1, but more into team sports, such as soccer or basketball, this experience showed me that individual sports, like Formula 1, were just as good! We could discover the various areas of the race track, how the drivers were training before the races and finally the surroundings of the circuit with the various spots where the spectators have access. It was in telepresence, but it felt just as if we were there!”, declared with great enthusiasm Jawad, young member of the Rudy’s Kids Academy with the association Etendart, an educational program created by the foundation of French NBA player Rudy Gobert.

“An unforgettable day” for Elliot and Raphaël

Meeting their favorite driver was the dream of many of the young enthusiasts who attended the Bahrain Grand Prix. A unique opportunity, almost unreal, to interact with world famous drivers. That was the case for Elliot, for example, a huge F1 fan who has been supported for more than 10 years by the French association Petits Princes.

"The Beam mobile telepresence robot became Elliot's avatar and allowed him to interact with his favorite F1 drivers and others as if he were there. He was also able to visit the F1 pitlane, see the backstage of F2 and meet people who gave him their precious time. Magical moments made possible by technology. This day of March 4th will remain an unforgettable day for Elliot and ourselves because there is nothing more beautiful for parents than to see their child with stars in their eyes"

- Christophe and Stéphanie, Elliot's parents.

"What was our surprise when we saw Lewis Hamilton, seven-time world champion, a living legend of F1, make a small detour to place himself in front of our camera. Little hello from Lewis with a big smile, big smile for Raphael ... Thank you Lewis... 15 seconds of your precious time, a memory forever engraved in the mind of Raphaël. World champion of your sport, and champion of generosity. Bravo!

Here are the drivers passing a second time, in the other direction. Charles Leclerc is Raphaël's favorite driver. And Charles stops in front of us, a little hello, a nice hand gesture. Thank you Charles, it's fantastic!"

- Aurélien, Raphaël's father.

The Awabot team would like to thank the Formula 1 organization for making this initiative possible, as well as all the organizations and associations involved with the children’s families who were telepresent at the Grand Prix : Make a Wish UK, Rays of Sunshine, Rudy’s Kids Foundation & Etendart, Petits Princes, Imagine for Margo and Premiers de cordée. A big thank you also to the children themselves and their families who were more than extraordinary this weekend: Ewan, Charlie, Jack, Arlo, Joshua, Hamza, Ross, Ryan, Elliot, Tom, Raphaël, Gabin, Maxence, Clément, Maati, Ruben, Mathis,Tristan, Lucile, Edson, William, Keshav, Ilian, Ilias and Jawad.

Aged from 8 to 19 years old, each of the young F1 fans connected this weekend to the Bahrain Grand Prix spent precious and emotional moments in telepresence. Much more than a simple visit of the paddock through robots, this Formula 1 initiative offers a genuine immersive experience in the heart of a race weekend to these young fans prevented by illness or disability. Always more committed to inclusivity, F1 has at least accomplished its goal this weekend. And this is only the beginning of the season! To be continued…