Formula One teams draft gamers to compete for £150,000 F1 Esports Series
Racing games are one of the less high-profile esports sectors. Although there are spectacular games and highly skilled drivers, it’s not as common to see high profile events in this area – that makes the ones that do happen stand out even more.
The event in question is of course the first F1 Esports series. It is an online gaming competition across PC, Xbox and PS4. In a pretty interesting move, most Formula One teams have nabbed themselves some of the pros to compete for them. All teams except Ferrari are taking part in this and each hired up to three gamers for their team.
Of the original 66.000 competitors, only 40 are left for the finals. The nine competing teams picked the best of the bunch through an American draft-style system. Ferrari chose not to compete, and Williams got the first pick. 18-year old Finn Tino Naukkarinen was their first choice to compete for the $200.000 prize pool.
That is a sizeable pool of winnings for the competition, but given the names of the participating teams, that’s no surprise. Since Ferrari is not participating, that leaves Mercedes, Red Bull Racing, Renault, Haas, Force India, McLaren, Toro Rosso, Sauber, Williams.
As for the 40 remaining competitors, they were put through a series of assessment challenges at Silverstone before the teams made their picks. These included (real world) go-kart racing, reflex tests and a number of teamwork challenges to see how the competitors scored here. Of course, the competitors also played a variety of simulation races.
The teams really did examine all the candidates closely – from fitness tests to tests on knowledge of the racing world, no aspect went unnoticed. Robert Corr, F1Esports manager said in an interview that these assessments weren’t about their speed – after all, all the candidates would have to be fast to reach this stage – but about the person behind the gamer tag/wheel. Even a pit stop challenge was included as part of a team challenge – these lucky 40 really got to experience the racing world up close in those three days.
Only 16 of the 40 finalist racers were chosen to compete in the teams though. Of course, this led to several emotional scenes among the competitors – both the ones chosen and the ones that failed this all important hurdle. This is especially true for Sauber who had the final pick. Their final choice was Sonuc Saltunc. He was of course more than happy to be chosen, especially because his brother Salih, also a finalist, was Sauber’s first choice. The two were more than a bit emotional when they got to join the same team backstage.
Sonuc had already participated in 2017’s event, where he managed to snag a position as a finalist. The final championship event will be taking place this autumn. The chosen players will be racing on Codemasters’ F1 2018 title in three different live events.