Formula 1 has launched it’s first ever official eSports series based on the upcoming F1 2017 game.
The Formula 1 eSports Series will run in partnership with game developers Codemasters Studios and eSports specialist Gfinity.
The inaugural season will kick off in September with qualification events being held on F1 2017, which releases on August 25th.
The fastest 40 drivers in the qualification will be invited to a live semi-finals event at the Gfinity Arena in London on October 10-11th.
The fastest 20 drivers from the semis will then qualify for the final, a three-race event held at F1’s season finale at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November.
The winner will not only receive the inaugural eSports title, but also an automatic qualification for 2018’s semi-finals, will be featured as a character in the F1 2018 game and be named as “Formula 1 eSports champion expert”
“This launch presents an amazing opportunity for our business: strategically and in the way we engage fans,” said F1 Managing Director of Commercial Operations, Sean Bratches in a statement.
“First, it’s a growing category with tremendous fan engagement that we’re entering in a big way; and we are proud to have Codemasters and Gfinity joining us on this ride.”
“Of course as we do in Formula 1, we’ll continue to evolve and innovate in the way we run this virtual counterpart to the F1 championship to ensure we provide the most exciting and enjoyable experience we can for our fans.”
Codemasters CEO, Frank Saigner also commented: “eSports is one of the fastest growing sectors of gaming already attracting audiences in the tens of millions”.
“We are delighted to be announcing this incredible racing series with Formula 1 for our upcoming F1 2017 game. The highly competitive nature and high-speed spectacle of the sport combined with the authenticity of our game will provide a thrilling experience for players and viewers across the world.”
Whilst F1 has made it’s first step into the eSport industry, Motorsport has been close to gaming over the last several years.
The Nissan GT Academy and Playstation series Gran Turismo partnered together to turn gamers into Nissan GT and LMP drivers. Former GP2 and GP3 British driver Jann Mardenborough was the noticeable winner from the academy having won the series in 2011.
Mclaren Honda Formula 1 Team made the step into eSports this year with the “World’s Fastest Gamer” project, which sees one gamer hired as the team’s F1 simulator driver.
FIA Formula E hosted a major eSports event in January in Las Vegas. Dutch virtual racer Bono Huis won the main event with a prize money of $200,000.