Formula 1 is going virtual in a way it hasn’t previously, with an official F1 eSports competition launched today for competitors using Codemasters’ F1 2017 game (launches on Friday, August 25).
The eSports series will run from September to November, with the first F1 virtual world champion to be crowned the Monday after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Per the official f1esports.com site, which launched today, qualifying will take place Sept. 4 at the Monza and Suzuka circuits before the semifinal occurs on Sept. 10, and will see 40 drivers race from the Gfinity esports arena in London to cut the field to 20. The two-day final occurs in Abu Dhabi in November.
Users of the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC (steam) platforms are eligible to enter.
This new series represents “an amazing opportunity for our business: strategically and in the way we engage fans,” said Sean Bratches, Managing Director, Commercial Operations of F1, via Reuters.
The esports arena has recently emerged in racing with competitions such as McLaren’s The World’s Fastest Gamer sim racing program, CJ Wilson Racing’s 570 Challenge (with McLaren; team also held a Cayman Cup challenge in 2016) and Formula E’s eraces, which are often part of an ePrix weekend. Formula E held a standalone erace in Las Vegas earlier this year.
Still, this marks a big step for F1 to formally sign off with it in this partnership with Codemasters and Gfinity.
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Formula E has confirmed more details for its upcoming eSports race in Las Vegas that will see drivers battle for a prize fund of $1 million.
Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag announced over the London ePrix weekend at the beginning of July that Las Vegas would play host to an e-race in January, acting as a non-championship round for season three.
ESports has been a key area of focus for Formula E since its inception, with a handful of drivers going head-to-head at each race weekend in a virtual race.
As part of the Sports Business Innovation Summit (January 5-7) at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the 20 drivers racing in Formula E this season will be pitted against each other on the rFactor 2 game, as confirmed in a statement on Thursday.
The drivers will be joined by 10 fans who can win a place on the grid via the ‘Road to Las Vegas Challenge’ scheme, more details about which can be found by clicking here.
“Formula E takes one more giant step in engaging with our fans,” Agag said upon the announcement.
“Gamers from all over the world will be able to participate in the ‘Road to Vegas Challenge’ and earn themselves the opportunity to race against the Formula E drivers in a unique eRace.
“All this will take place within CES, the world’s largest technology show, highlighting our commitment to fan engagement through innovation and technology.
“We believe eSports offers a new level of fan interaction and participation in sport, and we want to be at the forefront of this gaming revolution.
“Gamers, welcome to Formula E – let’s race!”
Formula E previously made an appearance in Las Vegas when its demo car ventured down The Strip in 2014.