A wild F1 2019 Esports Series ended in December with a new champion crowned. Italian David Tonizza, representing Ferrari, claimed the coveted Drivers Championship, but he can't rest easy on his laurels.
After a record audience viewed the 2019 Grand Final it is no surprise to see the leading esports racing expand across the globe.
With an eye on the 2020 Series, the inaugural F1 Esports China Championship took place over the weekend at the Hui Space in the Shanghai Stadium.
100 racers from across the country competed in the two-day event which saw Tang Tianyu claim the ultimate victory, closely followed by Yuan Yifan.
Both champion and runner-up won themselves a spot in the field for the 2020 F1 Esports Pro Draft that will take place in London later this year.
Qualification for the Pro Draft is more competitive every year, and Renault Vitality F1 Esports Series driver Jarno Opmeer was there to scout out the potential opposition.
Massive audience for China Championship
Opmeer wasn't the only person interested in the event, as excited fans tuned in throughout China to see the competition.
The audience peaked with 1.6 million concurrent viewers, once again showing just how popular F1 esports is.
This follows an online audience of 5.8 million watched the third season of F1 esports, a massive 76% increase on 2018, while 169 million social media impressions ensured that even Max Verstappen couldn’t miss the excitement.
With the field of competitors expanding every year and the bar for entry rising, every driver from the 2019 season will have to be at the very top of their game to compete in 2020.
A massive 109,000 drivers attempted to qualify for the 2019 Pro Draft and a piece of the $500,000 prize fund.
Julian Tan, Head of Growth & Esports for Formula One, had this to say:
“The first season of the F1 Esports Series China Championship has been a great success, with qualification spanning across six major cities in China and attracting over 10,000 registrations with 5,000 participants. Across the four regional finals, six million people tuned in online, with an average peak of 250,000. The Grand Final also saw a huge spike, with 1.4 million people watching live, demonstrating the real value of expanding the series into China.”