Following the huge success F1® Esports has had over the last year with the Virtual Grands Prix and 2020 F1® Esports Series, Formula 1® has announced over 494k people attempted to qualify for this year’s 2021 F1® Esports Series – an increase of 108% from 2020.
There were more ways to qualify than ever before for this year’s F1® Esports Series, as drivers contested for spots in the event across the F1® Esports Series Challengers, the DHL Time Trial, the China Championship and the inaugural Women’s Wildcard.
The 2021 season officially starts with the Pro Exhibition, an online combine that will see the 30 drivers who progressed from these four qualification routes showcase their talents in a series of in-game assessments, testing their abilities for the life-changing opportunity to be potentially selected by one of the ten F1® Esports teams for their Pro Championship rosters. While the participants continue to compete on the official F1® 2020 video game developed by Codemasters, the new Pro Championship season, which begins in the autumn, will see drivers battle it out on the hugely anticipated 2021 version of the game, the first since EA acquired the long-time developers of the title, which will be released on Friday 16 July.
Highlights from the Pro Exhibition, hosted by F1® Esports regulars, Tom Deacon, Matt Gallagher and Nic Hamilton, will feature exclusive interviews from Romain Grosjean, F2 driver Guanyu Zhou and W Series driver Jessica Hawkins, and will be broadcast from the Gfinity Arena in London at 19:00 BST on Thursday 27 May on the official Formula 1® YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, Huya (China) channels.
The Pro Exhibition kicks off the new era for the F1® Esports Series, with the Pro Championship, formerly known as the Pro Series, starting later this year. The F1® Esports Series is once again presented by Aramco, Global Energy Partner of F1®, who will remain Presenting Partner as part of an extended agreement following the success of last year’s F1® Esports Series, which achieved over 11m digital live views. DHL, a founding partner of the F1® Esports Series, has been renewed as Official Sponsor and will be a key part of the Pro Championship through the DHL Fastest Lap award and associated championship point, mirroring real world racing. Fanatec also continues to be a crucial partner to the F1® Esports Series, as it has been since 2018, and will supply hardware for all drivers in the Pro Championship once rosters are confirmed after the Pro Exhibition.
Julian Tan, Head of Digital Business Initiatives and Esports at Formula 1®, said:
“We’re delighted to see so many people enjoying and engaging with the F1 game, as The F1 Esports Series continues to shatter records, with nearly half a million qualifiers for this year’s campaign. We can’t wait to see the talent on show in the Pro Exhibition and look forward to the Pro Championship later in the year, which could be the most exciting yet! As ever, we are thankful for the continued support from our partners Aramco, DHL and Fanatec as we strive to make the F1 Esports Series bigger and better every year.”
Frank Sagnier, CEO at Codemasters, said:
“We continue to be overwhelmed and thrilled with the success of the F1 Esports Series. With more ways to qualify, as shown by the recent China Championship, our players are rising to the challenge in the hope of joining one of the 10 official F1 Esports teams. We’re incredibly proud to introduce the Women’s Wildcard, and we hope we will see a significant increase in women engaging with the F1 game at a grassroots level and challenging at the top of the leaderboard.”
John Clarke, CEO at Gfinity, said:
“The Pro Exhibition is yet another fantastic example of how Formula 1 continues to innovate and expand, uniting the different F1 Esports Series qualification events in a way that hasn’t been done before. Gfinity is proud to continue our work with Formula 1, utilising our tech IP and world-class production to deepen engagement with existing and younger F1 fans around the globe.”