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Ferrari on sidelines as F1 teams get involved to boost eSports series

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Ferrari on sidelines as F1 teams get involved to boost eSports series
Apr 5, 2018, 6:32 AM

Formula 1 will get a taste of life without Ferrari when the F1 eSports season kicks off on April 13 after the Italian outfit decided not to lend it...

Formula 1 will get a taste of life without Ferrari when the F1 eSports season kicks off on April 13 after the Italian outfit decided not to lend its brand to the competition.

All the other F1 teams, including Mercedes, have signed up and after some initial qualifying rounds, the world's top eSports drivers will be drafted into respective F1 teams to go to the next level of the competition.

Some teams, like Force India, have had the vision to promote one of their partners Hype energy drink, to be title partner of the eSports team, adding value to their partnership in a space where their target audience resides.

The series will be played on F1's official game, made by Codemasters, in partnership with ESports experts GFinity.

Last year's inaugural F1 eSports series was judged a great success and the final, at the Abu Dhabi GP, was won by British racer Brendon Leigh.

The organisers have used some imagination in setting the challenge for the qualifiers; drivers will find themselves in a real world situation as Valtteri Bottas on a drying track in Shanghai, lying in sixth place with five laps to go. Can they get to the podium?

The development of the competition, with F1 teams and real world scenarios, will certainly capture the imagination of eSports gamers and the entry is sure to be large. F1 is aiming to reach a situation soon where the AI is sufficiently good that players can 'ghost race' against the real F1 drivers in real time during an actual Grand Prix.This will have global appeal for gamers of all ages.

Both F1 and the FIA have realised that Gaming and eSports provides a very useful, wide funnel for new generations to discover motorsports.

Some may spend their entire 'motorsport' lives in the virtual space, without ever attending or watching the real thing, but many will crossover and discover F1 or Le Mans or Formula E.

So as we move towards a world where the role of the automobile changes significantly, this is proving a very valuable tool to keep the sport alive for new generations.

The global eSports market generated US$493 million of revenue in 2016 and is expected to make $1.5 billion by 2020. The global eSports audience in 2017 - largely based on games like League of Legends and Call of Duty - was 191 million people, 80% under the age of 35 and 70% male (source: Newzoo).

Ferrari not playing

The absence of Ferrari is a small but significant statement on the eve of F1's owners Liberty Media revealing the blueprint for the F1 of the future on Friday in Bahrain.

An antagonistic situation has developed between Sergio Marchionne and Liberty Media in particular over the next set of regulations from 2021 onwards. Marchionne believes that ideas on simplifying engines and sprint races to decide qualifying are gimmicks that dumb down the sport and make it harder for manufacturers to prove technological distinction.

Liberty want to level the playing field a bit, so any team can win on its day, as in the English premier league, whilst also addressing the unfairness in the payments system to teams that keeps the big teams ahead of the smaller ones.

A huge fight will break out after Friday's reveal by Ross Brawn and his team of the 2021 blueprint and the headlines will look ugly over this weekend and beyond.

You could look at it as encouraging that Mercedes and McLaren are in; they are in league with Ferrari on its stance against the new approach. Or you could look at it that Ferrari wants to show the power of its brand, that it won't be allowed to be seen alongside the other competitors.

Ferrari is also not participating in the Netflix behind the scenes F1 documentary series, which is being shot this year for release in the winter. But then only six teams are fully engaged with that.

What do you think of the latest stance by Ferrari? Will you be watching the eSports series, maybe check out the final? Leave your comment in the section below

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Series Formula 1
Tags innovation