While this is Formula 1's first official step into the eSports segment, motorsport has been closely aligned to gaming for a number of years through the Nissan GT Academy programme, famous for taking gamers and turning them into factory Nissan GT drivers. That group will be whittled down to 20 who will compete in the finale of the event at Yas Marina as part of the 2017 FORMULA 1 ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX on November 24 and 25. F1 racing has announced that it will be crowning its first virtual racing champion with the announcement of the Formula 1 Esports Series. Three stages will be raced by competitors with qualification running throughout the month of September and the 40 quickest drivers (across all formats) to progress to the live semifinals on October 10th and 11th at the Gfinity Arena.
"This launch presents an unbelievable opportunity for our business", said Sean Bratches, F1's managing director of commercial operations, "strategically and in the way we engage fans".
The goal of this new eSports series is to find and crown a virtual world champion.
The press release about the new virtual racing series states, "The 2017 series marks the first year of the annual competition highlighting the sport's long-term investment in esports and gaming as well as its continued ambition to build a greater connect with wider audiences, especially younger fans".
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I still think, when you go to the Garden, it's a completely different feeling", continued Griffin. The next year will be interesting - that's for sure.
The victor will be crowned the Formula 1 esports World Champion, and will also be offered the chance to be the esports champions expert for the 2018 tournament.
F1 commercial head Sean Bratches said he was "proud to have Codemasters and Gfinity joining us on this ride".
"Formula 1 entering esports is a powerful endorsement to how vital it is for cutting edge organisations to consider esports in their digital offering in order to reach the elusive and lucrative millennial fan-base", said Neville Upton, CEO of Gfinity. Of course we already have Formula E in the space so this could mean big things for the sim racers out there...