This week has seen Formula 1 announce the names of the 10 new Esports racing drivers who have been chosen to become official F1 Esports Drivers. They will now race professionally for a team in the next stage of the 2019 Formula 1 New Balance Esports Series – The Pro Series.
This year sees 10 teams participating in the series, and each one has now selected a minimum of 1 driver from the pool of Pro Draft players to compete for them this year. Originally 109,000 wannabe players from across the globe competed in adrenaline fuelled racing to try and win a place on the teams.
Tuesday night saw the final 41 gamers take part in a series of race-offs to try to secure their places. From this the 11 slowest drivers were out of the competition, leaving 30 players to go through to Wednesday nights live final. Streamed across social media and broadcast live on television in some countries. A nail biting event saw the last 30 whittled down to 10, the successful players are as follows (pending contracts):
David Tonizza (Italy) Ferrari Driver Academy
Simon Weigang (Germany) Renault Sport Team Vitality
Floris Wijers (Netherlands) Haas F1 Team Esports
Isaac Price (UK) Williams Esports
Nicolas Longuet (France) Red Bull Racing Esports
Lucas Blakeley (UK) SportPesa Racing Point F1 Esports Team
Allert Van Der Wal (Netherlands) McLaren Shadow
Kimmy Larsson (Sweden) Alfa Romeo Racing F1 Esports
Manuel Biancolilla (Italy) Scuderia Toro Rosso Esports
Daniel Shields (Australia) Mercedes AMG Petronas Esports
These drivers are now preparing for the 2019 Formula 1 New Balance Esports Pro Series. The competition consists of 12 races, competed in over four separate live events, taking place on the 11th September, 2nd October, and the 6th November, with the Grand Finale being held on the 4th December.
The prize fund this year is a whopping $500,000, to be shared between winners, and the competition will be played on the newly launched F1 2019. The winners will be declared the 2019 F1 New Balance Esports Series Teams’ and Drivers’ World Champions.
As 2019 saw a huge increase in participation and interest in the event over previous years, the decision has been made to launch qualifying rounds for the 2020 competition early. The rounds will open on 22 July 2019, and will run until the end of the year. The event is open to anyone who owns an official copy of the game, F1 2019, by Codemasters.
The head of Growth and Esports at Formula 1, Julian Tan, has said ; “The F1 Esports Series Pro Draft is an incredibly important part of our effort to break down borders and open up our sport to a new generation of F1 fans. Being the first in motorsport to pioneer the pro draft concept has allowed us to establish a direct route into our sport for fans, giving the next crop of racing stars the opportunity to go from living room to podium and even World Champion by signing for an official F1 team. Tonight’s successful drivers are incredible talents and if the wheel-to-wheel racing is anything like last year, it’s going to be a thrilling championship!”
He was closely followed by the CEO at Codemasters, Frank Sagnier, who said: “Tonight, we witnessed the world’s top F1 Esports drivers fulfil their dream and sign with one of the 10 official racing teams. We saw record numbers of participants attempt to qualify for the Draft and we are now down to the very best F1 Esports talent. The line-up is complete; it’s now time for the competition to begin and to see who can step up and take Brendon Leigh’s crown.”
To top it off, the Global Chief Operating Officer at Gfinity plc, Graham Wallace gushed “Once again the F1 Esports Pro Draft delivered the drama and excitement that fans demand. They love the back stories, where the drivers come from and their motivations. It gives them an added reason to care. And heightens the anticipation for the races themselves. The fans can’t wait to see the teams and driver compete under the lights at the Gfinity Arena. This year’s Series will be the best ever.”