How did F1 drivers become esport professionals?
We’re all stuck in our houses. For a lot of people, video games are the only way to get out of the house and get lost in a different world. If you’re a racing fan, like me, you were looking forward to the 2020 Formula One seasson. You probably knew every driver line up, watched the teams new and controversial car changes and were excited to see how other teams reacted and responded.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. The first race in Australia got cancelled, then Bahrain, then Vietnam, then China… Suddenly, it seemed like there was going to be no F1 this year. COVID had created a huge problem for the teams, as some of the members started getting sick and the concerns for race stadiums became apparent.
VeloceEsports, an esports team with a history in racing and partners of an actual Formula One team, decided to take things into their own hands. They gathered some esport pros, popular sim racers, famous personalities and actual Formula One drivers, both past and present, to create Not The Aus GP. Taking place on the Codemasters F1 2019 game, all twenty players competed on what would have been the first race of the year in real life.
It seemed the actual Formula One team got interested and continued with their official Bahrain race the following race week, taking more F1 drivers and popular personalities and pitted them all onto the sim racetrack. Due to the quarantine, more and more people got into Sim Racing, including George Russel, a driver for Williams who didn’t even have a sim rig before isolation started!
Through desperation and teamwork, Formula One had managed to continue for the fans in one way or another. It wasn’t the season any of us had wanted, but it is certainly going to be an interesting footnote in the history books: When esports became the main event.