Insight: F1 takes strides into eSports space and crowns new World Champion
Innovation
Posted By: Jake Boxall-Legge  |  28 Nov 2017   |  6:48 am GMT  |  27 comments

Formula 1 made big strides into the virtual-racing world this year, with the World’s Fastest Gamer initiative between McLaren and Logitech and more recently F1’s own eSports series.

F1 crowned British teenager Brendon Leigh as its first ever eSports Series champion after Abu Dhabi hosted the inaugural series finale.

Behind the scenes, efforts to speed up the arrival of real-time gaming against F1 drivers during an actual Grand Prix are being redoubled.

Meanwhile several F1 teams are now hiring a head of eSports – and Fernando Alonso even launched his own eSports team at the weekend.

eSports’ shy World Champion

Halfway through the race, Leigh – having started the race a point behind Fabrizio Donoso and Sven Zurner – was hit by a rival competitor and staged a thrilling recovery drive which took the championship down to the wire, battling with rival Donoso on the final lap.

The 18-year-old Leigh, making a move under braking at the end of the Yas Marina circuit’s longest straight, cleared Donoso as his rival took to the run-off to stay ahead.

Donoso moved over along the next straight, allowing Leigh to sweep through and stay ahead to clinch the win, and claimed the eSports title ahead of Donoso by six points.

Delighted with his triumph, Leigh had his mind on a rather low-key celebration of his title win in Abu Dhabi. He ended up being featured on the F1 international TV feed on the F1 grid on Sunday.

“I feel really happy because these two [Donoso and Zurner] are two of the best in the world now,” said Leigh.

“Winning here means a huge amount to me. I am the first one to do it. That is special.

“I’m not sure how to celebrate. I don’t drink or anything, I think I might just go to bed.”

F1’s eSports Series has drawn plenty of attention of late, in the wake of Fernando Alonso’s announcement that his own team would enter, in addition to McLaren’s signing of Rudy van Buren having won the Woking team’s “World’s Fastest Gamer” competition.

Logitech revealed recently that sales of its steering wheels and seats had doubled this year in some markets off the back of the WFG initiative.

FOM’s marketing manager Sean Bratches suggested that following from its recent success, the sport’s commitment to eSports will only grow.

“The attraction to a broad and committed younger generation of F1 and eSport fans is something that we are proud to support and nurture,” said Bratches.

“We look forward to establishing a season-long series in 2018.”

After Donoso took to the run-off to avoid Leigh’s last-lap manoeuvre, the new champion wagged his finger in his rival’s direction. Darren Cox, who runs Leigh’s eSports team, was equally as effusive about the future of eSports and his young charge’s series win.

“Brendon drove like a true professional and his character shone through,” said Cox. “Somehow, his finger-wagging is already a GIF!

“I have been involved in the virtual side of our sport for 10 years and have seen it grow, the last 7 days have really seen a tipping point.”

Over 60,000 people entered the F1 eSports competition – launched in September across the PS4, Xbox One and PC platforms – and part of Leigh’s prize includes becoming a character in Codemasters’ next F1 game release, along with a bye into next year’s eSports semi-finals.

What do you make of the eSports programmes we have seen so far? Leave your comments in the section below

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27 comments

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1

This video contains content from F1 Management, who has blocked it.....

Management in the singular?

2

it's an interesting project, but honestly as a gamer, sim fan and hardcore F1 fan, once you are looking at a game like F1 2017, any credentials for winning it go a bit out of the window. It's certainly not a great sim, its not even considered a great racing game.

If F1 is serious about running an esports series, they need to ask Codemasters to design a much more custom hardcore sim experience or maybe approach a dev with more experience and success in this field. Even a slightly better racing game would be an improvement!

Having said that, it seemed like a decent finale, certainly the final lap was entertaining and visually it held up in my opinion.

3

As a sim racer, and having played pretty much all the "sims" since the mid-nineties, I consider F1 2017 to be a ver good sim and racing game.

4

We discuss what the future of F1 will be. What if a console is the future F1 engine?

5

As the world eagerly adopts the look and feel of a William Gibson or Neal Stephenson novel, I guess the rise of F1eSports makes perfect sense. But to me the blurring of the distinctions between reality and simulation seems scary and dangerous.

6

...here is another take on this, where eSports version is declared better than the real thing already.

https://arstechnica.com/cars/2017/11/formula-1-esports-now-more-exciting-than-the-real-thing-and-thats-a-problem/

7

Imagine if the real cars could follow each other as closely through the Sector 3. Surely, eSports is showing how F1 should be ?

8

I dunno what to make of it. Its not a real simulator.

BTW what does space have to do with it? Maybe they should add a few rockets to aid in passing. Those prop plane races are cool to watch although you don't see P51 Mustangs anymore. Its pretty dangerous. If something goes wrong you crash and die.

F1 will now have a halo but no shark fin so the weight should stay the same.

Now I don't like the new logo but I don't care for the old one so it doesn't really matter. What will matter is maybe doing different stuff only on the internet like in the US no commercials but pay just like every other media company has been doing lately. They have to get it right unlike Star Trek Discovery which because special boxes aren't practical. They need to put it on boxes that exist and work or just straight through too.

It wasn't that long ago that debacle with tires at Indy turned everyone in the US against F1 and anyhow you couldn't get it except on the now defunct speed channel.

9

Well that was a good race, better than the one we saw in real life 🙂 Coverage is not bad either to be honest (commentary was cringe worthy though)

10

Congrats to Brendon Leigh!
If it adds more interest in the sport and attracts more tech companies to spend on the "E" (electronic) as well as the real deal - I'm all for it.
I sat in a stadium filled with esports fanatics two years ago and couldn't believe how huge esports has become (which is silly since I've been gaming from the Atari 2600 days) The production value of the events is insane, commentators, replays, full video coverage of the event, people dressed up comic con style in the trade show setup on the side, kids seeking out autographs from their gaming heroes, football stars looking to invest millions in teams... while I wasn't into the types of games these kids were playing (and I've laughed at the idea of spectating games before) with all the show elements mentioned above, I really did get absorbed into the action. I read somewhere that a League of Legends grandfinal was second only in viewership to the Superbowl! So hearing some people snicker at Alonso investing in a team makes me think that he will probably have the last laugh.
I've won the WDC in everything from "Pitstop" on the C64, Nigel Mansell's world championship (and Indycar) on SNES, Papyrus Indycar 2, Geoff Crammonds GP2,GP3, GPL right through to sucking massively on any and all of iracings range...(you can usually find me upside down in a GT car somewhere on the way up the mountain in Bathurst) The point is, the games feed off the real thing. I think it's fantastic that there is an esport championship and if I wasn't so crusty and old (even egamers get too old to compete - seriously) I would show these young guns a thing or two. I mean, I was setting lap records around the circuit de catalunya in the FW14B when the track was moving rather than the car and a control pad was as close as you got to a steering wheel. I'd like to see Brendon Leigh in one of those classic games!

11

keep the fitness levels high over the winter period!

12

Good Lord, please spare us this nonsense. E-sports is an oxymoron!

13

Lol, tell that to Jann Mardenborough. Went from driving a Nissan GT-R in Gran Turismo to doing the real thing.

14
Clarks4WheelDrift

"FOM has blocked the content"...man I was interested there for a second, good job F1;)

15

You can still see it on YouTube, by clicking on the title.

16

The eSports final race was the most exciting race of the weekend!

17

**cough cough** http://www.karting1.co.uk/sim-vs-real-life.htm And that was 2007!!!

It's a logical step to make. Personally I'd prefer them to use a more traditional simulator that has a bit more depth to it, but I think that'll be impossible with the Codemasters tie in. Either way, the fact you can see the drivers faces, it makes for interesting viewing.

18

I watched the nearly three hours of coverage on Sky. The 20 minute race itself was actually pretty good but to bury it in another couple of hours of what can best be described as "pointless guff" did the whole enterprise a disservice. Hats off to Liberty Media, though, for trying something which would have been unthinkable under Bernie. Let's have shorter, more exciting coverage next time!

19

This is just a precursor to what will be. 3D virtual reality is the future of gaming and fan participation in sport. Motor racing lends itself perfectly to this new tech Ordinary people will be able to mix it in real time with the best drivers.

20

Hmmm, Codemasters probably a bit sim-cadey. Something like Assetto Corsa would seem more appropriate. Some of the footage of the e-racing driving that I saw bore no relation to reality. Kerbs were flat and didn't upset the car at all while all sorts of bumps and knocks seem to go unpunished.

21

Sorry, not interested one little bit.
This article should be in Atari Weekly not in a blog about Formula 1.

22

Yes. I'm a MOTORsport fan.

23

Racing is racing. You more of a fan of the paddock club?

24

Unfortunately, I could not have put it better myself

I understand this to be an F1 website and, in my opinion one of the best, if not the best, out there.
Let us please keep it that way, James.

There must be more than enough gaming outlets out there to report on F1E.
Let us leave it to them.

25

"Let us leave it to them..."

What "us"?? What reporting are you yourself doing? Don't like online racing, don't click on the title, simple as.

26

"Halfway through the race, Leigh – having started the race a point behind Fabrizio Donoso and Sven Zurner – was hit by a rival competitor and staged a thrilling recovery drive which took the championship down to the wire, battling with rival Donoso on the final lap. The 18-year-old Leigh, making a move under braking at the end of the Yas Marina circuit’s longest straight, cleared Donoso as his rival took to the run-off to stay ahead. Donoso moved over along the next straight, allowing Leigh to sweep through and stay ahead to clinch the win, and claimed the eSports title ahead of Donoso by six points"

Sounds like this was a more exciting race than we have been watching last sunday...
Sounds

27

They should be made to drive in cockpit view.
Looks like a kids game in that t-cam view.
Lets hope no one bothers with that view next year with the halo in the way.

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