Formula 1 is one of the largest and most important sporting events in the world. In the 2019 season, around 1.9 billion spectators watched the races of Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Co., but thanks to the coronavirus situation, the start of the 2020 season had to be postponed. Drivers and fans are switching to the virtual royal class of motorsport. With incredible success for the F1 Esports Series and the Virtual Grand Prix.
The 2020 Formula 1 season was originally supposed to start in March in Melbourne, Australia, but shortly before the start of the season it was canceled due to the global corona pandemic. The abstinence of real motorsport is also a triumph for virtual Formula 1, which is booming like never before thanks to the F1 Esports Series and the Virtual Grand Prix.
- READ MORE: What is sim-racing?
F1 Virtual Grand Prix Series: Racing pros put the pedal to the metal
The season opener was supposed to take place on March 15 at the legendary Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne, but it turned out differently. A year without Formula 1 motorsport? Unthinkable for the organizers, drivers, and fans.
The F1 organization was desperately looking for a solution to the dilemma. Only five days after the canceled Australian GP, a solution appeared: the F1 Еsports Virtual Grand Prix Series.
Weekend after weekend, Formula One drivers like Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris and Alex Albon joined stars and athletes like Thibaut Courtois and Sergio Aguero to compete in F1 2019 by Codemasters on PC.
While the virtual driver field provided hot motorsport action on the courses in Bahrain, Australia, or Spain, the interest of the spectators grew weekly.
Already at the opening event, around 350,000 viewers looked over the shoulder of McLaren driver Lando Norris. But the growing interest did not go unnoticed by the TV stations either: for example, German channel RTL recently broadcast the Virtual Grand Prix of Spain with the well-known commentator duo Heiko Waßer and Florian König as well as the pay-TV network Sky.
The F1 Virtual Grand Prix of Australia has already been watched almost 1.9 million times on YouTube and the reactions of the viewers are overwhelming. In the comments of the Spain Grand Prix user "Les Shrubb" writes
"I never thought I could get so carried away with a computer game, at the age of 69, as a lifelong Formula One fan, but what do I know?"
We all are the winners
It quickly becomes clear: the F1 Virtual Grand Prix Series is a complete success, for all of us. There has never been a comparable boom for the еsports or Sim-Racing before.
The fusion of real sport and a computer game, as the F1 Virtual Grand Prix has shown, is unique. The event appeals to gaming fans and sports enthusiasts of all ages. It's also a huge success for the developers - Codemasters.
Since the launch of F1 Esports in 2017, the series has experienced a huge boost and this year brings F1 fans and gamers together for the first time. This is a big leap for virtual racing, which will also provide some enhancements in multiplayer mode in the upcoming F1 2020, giving esports an even higher profile.
In fact, in 2020 it is above all the Sim-Racing-Games that will see strong growth in esports. After all, in addition to virtual Formula 1, NASCAR or MotoGP drivers will also be fighting online for race victory in 2020, and this time with several hundred thousand spectators per event.
This is a huge step, especially for the gaming and esports industry, which can tap into a completely different market thanks to the new viewers and perhaps do away with the prejudices of "evil computer games" once and for all.
- READ MORE: What is iRacing?
Formula 1 Esports Series: the Sim Racing Series
Besides the Virtual GPs, the Formula 1 Esports Series, which has been held in the official F1 Games by Codemasters since 2017 and is supported by the umbrella organisation of F1, must not be neglected. The events were broadcast in 123 countries and generated more than 20 million impressions on social networks.
In 2018, the first full season took place. It kicked off with the Pro Draft, in which drivers were able to grab a cockpit in the Esports teams of real Formula 1 racing teams - including Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport, Red Bull Racing or Williams.
There was also $200,000 in prize money to be won. 5.5 million spectators watched the season, in which 20-year-old Briton Brendon Leigh in a Mercedes took the most points for the second time in a row.
In the third season, the prize money even increased to half a million US dollars. With three victories, Italian David Tonizza secured the championship for the Ferrari Driver Academy team, while Red Bull Racing Esports secured the Constructors' title ahead of Ferrari and Alfa Romeo.
2020 promises to be THE year for Sim-Racing and esports. We are curious to see how things will continue in the coming weeks and months. If you ever wanted to get behind the wheel now's a great time. Stay tuned for more news and make sure to check out EarlyGame for more updates.