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Formula One launches esports series

The Formula One motor-racing championship has entered the competitive gaming arena with the launch of its own esports series.

The Formula 1 Esports Series will debut in September and will bring together gamers and fans who will vie to become the best virtual F1 driver. The launch of the series will coincide with the August 25 release of the F1 2017 game on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC consoles.

F1 has partnered with video game developer Codemasters, which makes the official F1 games, and esports event organiser Gfinity on the venture.

F1 said the first year of the series will highlight the sport’s long-term investment in esports and gaming. The launch of the series is viewed as a means to build a greater connection between F1 and its younger fans.

Qualifying events will take place throughout September to determine the 40 quickest drivers. These drivers will then progress to semi-final events, which will be staged at London’s Gfinity Arena on October 10-11.

The top 20 will then progress to the finals, which will be staged at the Yas Marina circuit as part of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend on November 24-25. A three-race event will be held to determine the inaugural F1 esports world champion.

The winner of the 2017 series will automatically qualify for next year’s semi-finals. The winner will also be given the chance to attend an F1 event during the 2018 season, and become a character in the F1 2018 game.

Sean Bratches, F1’s managing director of commercial operations, said: “This launch presents an amazing opportunity for our business: strategically and in the way we engage fans. 

“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 One, 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.”

Gfinity chief executive Neville Upton added: “Formula One entering esports is a ringing endorsement for what spectacular entertainment esports provides and how vital it is to cutting-edge organisations that want to push the boundaries of entertainment and fan experience. Like Formula One, Gfinity has the experience, skill and infrastructure to put on world-class events and we look forward to delivering fans the Formula One Esports Series with excellence.”

Today’s (Monday’s) announcement comes after the McLaren team in May launched a new esports competition giving gamers the chance to serve as an official simulator driver for the British outfit.

McLaren teamed up with partner Logitech G, a developer of gaming equipment, to launch World’s Fastest Gamer. The competition was said to be the first of its kind in F1.