Formula 1 has announced that the F1 Esports Series will return for a fourth series in 2020, featuring a $750,000 prize fund.
The series, which is presented by Saudi energy group Aramco, will boast one of the largest prize pots in the entire Esports industry. The move demonstrates F1’s commitment to the future of motorsport.
2020’s F1 Esport action kicks off on 27th August with the “Pro Draft Reveal Show”. The ten F1 teams will confirm their rosters, whittling down the field from over 235,000 qualifiers.
Predictably, the Pro Series will have to be adapted to take place in a Coronavirus stricken world. With that in mind, each competitor will race from their own homes or team factories to esnure the safety of all involved.
It will be a huge technological feat for F1 to pull this off smoothly. With drivers racing from all over the world it will be a logistical nightmare to iron out any issues but it will also test the F1 2020 title to its limits.
The draft sees teams choose three drivers from the top 45 qualifiers. The two winners from the F1 Esports Series China Championship, Tang Tianyu and Yuan Yifan, will also be up for selection.
Running from October through to December, the championship follows the same 12-round format as we have seen in the past. Each round will have four races which are run at a new 35% race distance as opposed to the usual 25%. 2020 also sees the first time the Esports Series will run a full three-part qualifying format.
Each Pro Series driver will be supplied with identical Fanatec sim gear in the continued strive for a level playing field. It has not been mentioned whether some high-end gaming PC’s will also be thrown in as well, again to maintain a level playing field.
The press release states that F1 will be doubling down on broadcasting this season. There will now be eight live broadcasts with live racing on Wednesdays and Thursdays each race week. For the first time, qualifying will also be streamed globally. The F1 Esports Pro Series 2020 will be broadcast on F1’s social channels (Facebook, YouTube, Twitch and Huya), as well as select TV broadcast partners, with two live shows per event from the Gfinity Arena.
Julian Tan, Head of Digital Business Initiatives and Esports said: “F1 Esports has had a huge year with the massive success of the Virtual Grand Prix series that we ran through lockdown. This has set us up well for the launch of the 2020 F1 Esports Series which will be our biggest and most innovative season yet. With over 237,000 participants this year, up from 109,000 participants in 2019, we are seeing incredible growth. We also continue to push boundaries by offering our largest ever cash prize fund of $750,000 which is industry-leading as well as continue to innovate by adapting quickly in the current landscape and operating the series entirely remotely as we look to ensure an enjoyable, but safe, Pro Series this year – we can’t wait to get started!”