Since 1950, the FIA Formula 1 World Championship has been the motorsports showcase for the world’s best drivers. In 2017, riding high on the success of the Codemasters F1:2017 video game, Formula 1 and their parent company Liberty Media launched a new championship to find the world’s top open-wheeled warriors in the esports universe. That series is the F1 Esports Pro Series, and since 2017 it has grown with each new release of the Codemasters F1 game series. If you are a Formula 1 fan, and have enjoyed watching the real F1 drivers duke it out in the Virtual Grand Prix during the past month, you should definitely give the series a look. However, if you need a kick in the ass, here are 5 reasons why you should check out the F1 Esports Pro Series.
1. If you own the F1 video game, you are eligible to enter!
Yes, you read that right! If you own the official Codemasters F1 game, you are eligible to try your luck and qualify in online events to earn your place among the best. Each season begins with an open call for participation in online qualifying events. The fastest gamers will move on to the Pro Draft, where the 10 Formula 1 teams (Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, Renault, McLaren, RacingPoint, AlphaTauri, Haas, Alfa Romeo, and Williams) will select their drivers to represent them in the championship events. So, the next champion could be YOU! Get practicing!
2. The rewards are great
Last year, the prize fund at stake was a cool $500,000! Forget 5 reasons, that is 500,000 reasons to try your racing luck and dice it out with the best esports drivers in the world! Over 66,000 gamers participated in qualifying events for the 2018 series alone! What are you waiting for? Hit the virtual track and burn some rubber!
3. Esports is being used to find new young driver talent
The most amazing thing about F1 Esports and sim racing in general is that racing teams are using esports as a way to develop and find the next generation of racing drivers. NFL teams aren’t using Madden to locate the next Tom Brady, and your skills at the FIFA games will not make you the next David Beckham. However, racing video games have been used as a training tool by drivers and teams. In fact, Igor Fraga, a Brazilian who competed in the 2017 F1 Esports Pro Series, will be driving for Charouz Racing System in the 2020 FIA Formula 3 Championship. So, there is a good chance that one of the drivers you see in the F1 Esports Pro Series might someday be taking the track in a real Formula 1 race.
4. Quarantine restrictions have led to worldwide exposure and television coverage
While the global Covid 19 pandemic has seen numerous sports and racing leagues shut down, the esports realm has taken the opportunity to showcase the talents of gamers on another level. It is no different for F1 Esports. In the past month, real Formula 1 drivers like Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) and Lando Norris (McLaren) have hit the virtual track alongside novice sim racers and F1 Esports drivers in Virtual Grand Prix events that have been televised on SkySports in the UK and ESPN2 in the USA to whet the appetite of race starved fans. Even before the pandemic, the popularity of the series has been massive, as the 2018 F1 Esports Series drew a record audience of 5.5 million people across selected TV networks and live streams around the world!
5. The action rivals real Formula 1 racing
Last but not least, the racing action rivals the best real Formula 1 racing, and sometimes surpasses it. You want wheel to wheel action, last lap drama, opening lap melees, banzai overtaking and insane crashes? You got it! You want season long drama and championships that are decided on the final lap of the final race? Here it is. Personally, I’ve been a racing fan and a gamer my whole life, and one viewing of the 2017 Grand Final made me a fan of F1 Esports and esports racing. The mega duel between Brendon Leigh and Fabrizio Donoso Delgado gave me goosebumps. If you don’t believe me, watch it and see.
This should be more than enough reason to check out and/or participate in the F1 Esports Pro Series. If you want to check out past races and the last three Grand Finals, go to Formula One’s official YouTube page, and to get all the latest news and information, go to www.f1esports.com.
Guest column by Matthew Bankes.