Gfinity and Abu Dhabi Motorsport Management to launch new esports championship

The 2019 F1 New Balance Esports Series Pro Draft at Gfinity Arena (by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Esports and gaming solutions provider Gfinity has signed a five-year deal with Abu Dhabi Motorsport Management (ADMM), operator of Formula 1’s annual Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, to design, develop and deliver a new virtual motorsport esports racing championship (ERC).

The ERC will be jointly owned by Gfinity and ADMM, which also operates the Yas Marina Circuit at which the Abu Dhabi GP is held.

The ERC concept, created by Gfinity, is said to be based on a unique format not seen in virtual racing before and will feature some of the leading professional simulation racing drivers with a roster of teams from digital motorsport.

There will be two seasons in each calendar year, with the first season taking place in 2020. The races will be hosted by Gfinity, with drivers joining remotely from around the world competing behind the wheel of a bespoke, single seater car.

Gfinity’s proprietary technology, Race Control, will be utilised for in-race adjudication and data feeds in an effort to deliver new levels of insight to fans about driver and car performance. The two parties said the unique format is designed to capitalise on the growing appetite for digital motorsport from international broadcasters, providing multiple hours of programming per season to a range of partners, accompanied by new dedicated ERC digital channels.

Under the terms of the agreement, Gfinity will provide services to the ERC, including production and tournament operations. ADMM and Gfinity are jointly responsible for commercialising the ERC.

The Gfinity Digital Media group will work with ADMM’s marketing and social media teams to build the new channels and a global community of gamer racing fans under the ERC brand, supported by promotion and support from Gfinity’s existing global gaming community of 11 million users.

This will be supported via the Arabic-language site www.RealGaming101.me, which targets the estimated 93 million-plus gaming fans in the MENA region and was created by Gfinity in partnership with YaLLa Esports in April.

Al Tareq Al Ameri, ADMM chief executive, said: “ADMM has a strategic focus to develop and invest in premium racing ventures and virtual racing is an important pillar in this vision.

“Gfinity is the right partner for this championship with a shared passion and vision and has proven experience of executing world class esports programmes. We look forward to sharing more information about this and other esports initiatives that ADMM and Gfinity will be creating together.”

The ADMM deal comes after Gfinity last month agreed a two-year extension to its contract with Formula 1 to deliver the main elements of the F1 Esports Series in 2020 and 2021, and the 2022 qualifying events. In addition, the F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix Series was extended to June of this year.

John Clarke, Gfinity chief executive, said: “Motorsports is a key pillar of our strategy and we are excited to be entering into a long-term partnership with Abu Dhabi Motorsport Management. We have a shared passion for the Esports Racing Championship and a desire to build a product that will sit alongside the biggest brands in motorsport.

“There are millions of gamers that love racing. We have created a format that will excite and draw them into the ERC, giving sponsors and advertisers the opportunity to engage with this typically hard to reach audience.”