F1 has received much attention this season from us here at Sportego, as the 71 year old organisation has committed to a radical evolution of its digital development, with improved engagement with fans its focus. That evolution has received plaudits from far and wide, as F1 has been accredited with the accolade of being the fastest growing sports brand on social media in 2017, a key victory in F1s commitment to engage with current fans and attract new followers. Today, the sport’s governing body has announced that it is to launch an eSports series in conjunction with game developer Codemasters, and eSports specialists Gfinity.
As per the F1 press release, qualification events will take place for the tournament in September, following the game launch on August 25th. The fastest 40 drivers will go through to a live semi-final event at the Gfinity Arena in London on October 10-11, with the top 20 going through to a Final in Novemeber. The inaugural Formula 1 Esports Series World Champion will be crowned following a three day tournament as part of the season closing Abu Dhabi race in November.
Motorsport has natural technical advantages to many other sports when it comes to bringing the action closer to the fan, due to the ability to put cameras in all sorts of positions on the track, in the pitlane and especially on the cars themselves. NASCAR, the biggest peer/rival to F1 especially in the US, announced this past week that it intends to live-stream in-car camera footage on Twitter for all 10 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs races in 2017. It will provide NASCAR fans a unique look from inside the race car with a live camera stream that can be accessed via its official Twitter handle. Expect to see F1 look at introducing a similar idea in the near future.
Under new ownership determined to change the trajectory of a sport which at best was in stagnation, at worst in decline, F1 has embraced digital innovation as its vehicle to modernisation. From novel sponsorship activation ideas, to allowing teams greater freedom to create their own digital content, the sport of F1 is like a toddler. Like any toddler, it is exploring the big world in which it finds itself, and eSports is the most recent avenue of exploration. In such a technological sport, it could be a critical one in engaging a whole new generation of fans.