Formula One lays out plans for Chinese esports series

Formula One has outlined its belief that its first regional esports competition can boost the positioning of the motor-racing championship in China after revealing further details behind the project today (Thursday).

The F1 Esports Series China Championship will run from August through to the end of the year. Formula One first announced its intention to create the championship in April as it extended deals with the organisers and sponsors of its main esports series, which will see prize money more than double this year amid expansion plans.

The China Championship will open with qualification events across the Eastern, Northern, Southern and Midwestern regions of China in search of the country’s top sim racing talents. Racers will then compete in Regional Finals, with the best 100 Chinese sim racers participating to the Grand Final.

The champion and runner-up of the China Championship will join other racers in the 2020 F1 Esports Pro Draft for the chance to compete for a seat with an official F1 esports team. Formula One has partnered with Shanghai-based Juss Intellisports for the project, with the China Championship aiming to nurture the passion for racing in China by identifying the next wave of Chinese talents in sim racing, F1 esports and potentially Formula One in the future.

Fans will be able to participate in a warm-up qualifying event at CapitaMall LuOne in Shanghai from July 29 to August 3. A kick-off ceremony will celebrate the opening of the China Championship in the same location on August 4.

Formula One currently hosts one grand prix in China, and there has been speculation in the past that the Shanghai race could be added to with another event. Julian Tan, head of growth and esports at Formula One, said: “We are thrilled to be launching the F1 Esports Series China Championship, our first ever regional qualification championship, only two years after our entry into the burgeoning world of esports.

“China is an incredibly important market to Formula One and we believe there is massive potential to grow the passion for motorsport and cultivate the love for F1 as a sport in this region through F1 Esports, particularly amongst our next generation of fans. We want to engage with them in new and innovative ways and esports is a powerful tool to do that.”

The Chinese domestic esports audience is tipped to hit 350 million, and revenues to reach $1.9bn (€1.7bn) this year, according to a report last month by Tencent’s Penguin Intelligence.

Olivia Xue, general manager of Juss Intellisports, added: “China is the first country or region to participate in F1 Esports Series globally and we are fully confident that the tournament will be a success this year.”