The Formula 1 season came alive with a thrilling race in Austria last weekend. As the pinnacle of motorsport it is always nice when F1 is competitive, but even in a predictable season there can be no denying that F1 Esports is more popular than ever.
Just two weeks out from the next stage of the 2019 Formula 1 New Balance Esports Series, it was announced that 109,000 gamers attempted to qualify for the Pro Draft, a staggering increase of 65% over last year. The increase in numbers can partially be put down to the ease of access Codemasters has provided to players to enter events and pit themselves against the very best.
Julian Tad, Head of Growth & Esports at Formula 1, said:
"We’re incredibly proud that over 100,000 participants from across the world competed to qualify for the 2019 Pro Draft – it demonstrates an incredible uplift in interest in our esports programme."
Players from over 150 territories competed for the coveted spots in the Pro Draft and covered 5 continents. The top represented countries included great Britain, Germany, Brazil, Australia, and the USA - reflecting the truly global nature of Formula 1.
"This year is set to be monumental, with double the prize fund and, for the first time, all 10 official Formula 1 teams involved. We can’t wait to see what the world’s best e-racers have got hidden up their sleeves to secure a place on an official F1 team."
The F1 Esports Pro Draft competitors
30 racers qualified in the global online qualifying rounds on F1 2018. Six qualified via the DHL 50 Fastest competition, which saw 50 of the most prominent names in sim racing compete at a wet Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in the Mercedes W09 on F1 2018.
The final 6 drivers automatically qualified for this years Pro Draft after racing for an official F1 team during last year's series but then being released.
The list of successful racers is as follows: Daniel Shields (Australia), Joao Pedro Piana Santos (Australia), Isaac Price (GB), Andres Moreno (GB), Lucas Blakeley (GB), Sebastian Job (GB), Shanaka Clay (GB), Leroy Brown (GB), Nathan Moore (GB), Gary Martin (GB), Sonuc Saltunc (GB), Tom Parker (GB), Kyle Mitchell (Canada), Floris Wijers (Netherlands), Roy Arnouts (Netherlands), Kedon Lutt (Estonia), Nicholas Longuet (France), Matthias Cologon (France), Samuel Libeert (France), Thiabaut Suner (France), Daniel Alves Lourenco (Germany), Nils Matich (Germany), Patrick Hadler (Germany), Simon Weigang (Germany), Sebastian Tkocz (Germany), Tim Palm (Germany), Sven Zurner (Germany), Alexander Hanses (Germany), Istvan Puki (Hungary), Bence Szabo-Konyi (Hungary), Manuel Biancolilla (Italy), David Tonizza (Italy), Amos Laurito (Italy), Gianfranco Giglioli (Italy), Alessio Di Capua (Italy), Pino Macri (Italy), Wilfred Cardoso (Portugal), Filip Presnajder (Slovakia), Bernardo Pérez (Spain), Kimmy Larsson (Sweden)
42 drivers, 13 nationalities, and just a handful of seats for them to win. The inclusion of Ferrari in this years Esports Series opens up an extra seat, but the field is more competitive than ever so winning a spot in this years competition will be even tougher than in 2018.
Pro Draft Format
The 2019 Pro Draft will take place at the Gfinity Arena in London on 17th July, with the 42 hopefuls taking part in a series of race-offs on July 16th. This will give all the drivers a chance to show just what they can do and why one of the 10 participating teams should add them to their driver lineup.
The Pro Draft will be streamed online on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch, as well as broadcast live on television around the world by marquee broadcasters.
The successfully selected drivers will then compete in the Pro Series, made up of 12 races across 4 live events between September and December 2019 for the 2019 F1 New Balance Esports Series Teams’ and Drivers’ World Champions along with a massive $500,000 prize fund.