Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2018

Hamilton: eSports could help drivers from poorer backgrounds enter motorsport

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Lewis Hamilton says the growth in online motor racing could help drivers from less privileged backgrounds make it into motorsport.

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Comment of the day

What do you think of @Phylyp’s vision for how F1 could be watched in the future?

I think Liberty might be working towards a more robust over-the-top (OTT) streaming model, along the lines of Netflix and the likes.

As someone who’s been watching streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime for a few years, I can see the attraction of such services, and the kinds of audiences Liberty might be seeking.

Today, when surfing channels on my TV, if I come across an interesting show, I can make a note of it, and pick up the series from that point on, one episode per week. If I’m lucky, I might catch a few reruns to fill in what I’ve missed. On the other hand, I could just visit a site like JustWatch that tells me which streaming services offer the same series, and if I’m subscribed to that service, I can watch all seasons and episodes at my leisure, not as dictated by the TV channel’s programming.

Similarly, if Liberty offer streaming services of races (alongside TV broadcasts) once current contracts expire, not only will they be able to offer live races streamed in real-time, but also other on-demand services like different angles, replays, etc. Imagine having a subscription to Liberty’s F1 channel that lets you view any past race on-demand.

And OTT services like this needn’t be limited to being consumed on only mobile devices or computers with small screens – many TVs sold today are smart TVs that support streaming from the internet, and even regular TVs can be “smartened” up by the addition of a cheap Chromecast or Fire TV stick.

Granted, this will result in added internet costs as well, but there is a growing audience that is looking at consuming more internet-delivered media (TV, movies, music, gaming, etc.), with some of them even going so far as to giving up their TV connections (i.e. cord-cutters).

So, I for one will be watching how – as current TV broadcast contracts come up for renewal – Liberty approaches this aspect of broadcast rights over TV and other media.

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On this day in F1

  • Rupert Kegan was born on this day in 1955

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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45 comments on “Hamilton: eSports could help drivers from poorer backgrounds enter motorsport”

  1. I still think that we’re at least 15-20 years away from eSports gamers having a real chance to join F1 or even support series. Driving a simulator is quite different from driving a car in real.

    1. Jann Mardenborough says hi.

      1. I meant having a situation where it is quite common. There are obviously exceptions to the rule already, but for the moment, that’s exactly what they are: rare exceptions.

      2. Jann Mardenborough as the son of an ex-footballer learnt the trade in Karts and ran out of money

    2. HerriceFrancais
      26th February 2018, 6:24

      Interesting stance when the teams themselves invest quite heavily in simulators to prepare the drivers and gain insights on the car pre-season.

      1. Yes, but what I meant was that there is a differnce physically. eSports drivers (usually) don’t train the way real life racers do, both physically and mentally. Being quick in the simulator doesn’t always translate into real life. Otherwise, teams would literally just have thousands of junior drivers and eSports competitors to do a few laps in the sim and pick the quickest, irrelevant of their experience.

        1. The physical impact will be relatively easy to train for the best eRacers.

          Managing the fear involved in real racing might be more difficult to overcome. Even with added safety like the halo it will be prohibitive for many couch racers.

  2. In relation to COTD……..

    Unless things have changed the OTT service will be announced in the next 2-3 weeks and launched just prior to Melbourne……. Well in a small handful of regions anyway.

    It will be affordable, It will offer live content, Archive content & additional data. It will also be in 2 parts, A live service & a non-live service and I gather that aspects of the non-live service will be available in regions the live service is not.

    Oh & there is a deal been done with Netflix to get f1 related programming on that platform. Not actual races but documentary type stuff.

    1. Very nice to hear that, @gt-racer – would you know which are the countries being covered in this initial rollout? Or at least the regions – is it the US, or Europe/Japan, or emerging nations farther to the East?

      1. USA, Mexico, Germany, France and the Netherlands
        Spain and LatAm to follow later.

        1. @Egonovi Correct.

          The rollout elsewhere will be done as new TV deals are signed.

          1. That is great news (for them) Egonovi and @gt-racer – can’t wait for the wider rollout. Any schedule for when those deals are up for renewal?

          2. @phylyp Sky’s deal in the UK runs through the end of 2023 & they have exclusivity (Including digital rights) so the live portion of the OTT service likely won’t be in the UK until 2024 unless Sky back out of there deal early which I don’t see them doing.

            The Fox deal in Australia & I believe New Zealand runs through 2022.

            Outside of those i’m not 100% sure on how long existing deals run.

    2. If this is true, this may be one of the best F1 related news I’ve heard in a long while.

    3. Thanks for the report @gt-racer

      Looking forward to see what is offered and of course, the pricing.

  3. Keith – firstly, many thanks for the COTD.

    Secondly, just seen the email from Race Fans, and I have to say that that email was something like a “lights out” moment for the start of the 2018 season. Whee! I’m happy these past 3 months have gone by, and can’t wait for the Australian GP!

  4. @keithcollantine – your tweet is not showing in the round-up. Its very appropriate, so would be nice if its fixed quickly. :-)

  5. Guess Bernie is none too content spending very much time in the garden these days…
    Must be hoping to put the word “official” in front of Chief F1 Pot-Stirrer & Rumor Mongerer.

    1. :-) Bernie throwing up dirt. Surely if he is talking about a Vietnam deal, the only purpose can be to upset such a contract happening.

      1. Ha! “Bernie throwing up dirt.” That sounds funny. LOL

        Here’s to a cracking 2018 F1 season @bascb !

  6. Bernie just being himself once again: Blaming Mercedes, LOL.
    – I don’t see a race in Vietnam anymore likely to happen than any other of these potential future venues that have been mentioned at times.
    – BTW, why are there three separate articles about the same interview?

  7. Has Hamilton actually looked at the guys in the e”””‘””” Sports””‘”””” Finals? Most of those guys would See their neck or lack thereof violently explode in a real F1 car, so after signing them to a contract, you’d first need to lock them in a gym for two or three years.

    1. >you’d first need to lock them in a gym for two or three years.

      It really doesn’t take that long with a full-time work out schedule and diet, in just a few months one person can gain a lot of strength. Besides I don’t think Hamilton is suggesting every sim racer is going to make a good driver, some won’t even want to be real drivers. But there are definitely real life racers who maybe got stuck working their way up through the categories financially that have the passion to be great and work at transferring their skills across.

      It really doesn’t take much looking at the best in sim-racing to accept that the best there have arguably as much if not more racecraft as the best in F1.

      1. RC racing has more racecraft than F1.
        IF you want to race real vehicles with balance and gravity involved you start in Karts at a young age like Jann Mardenborough and Valantino Rossi did.

    2. I was 17 stone and… chubby… when I joined the army. 6 weeks later I was 11 stone and my mother didn’t know me when I went home for the weekend. It’s hard work but it can be done VERY quickly.

      1. You lost 2lbs a day?! Really?

        That’s like an 8000 calorie deficit. You’d have to be as active as an Arctic explorer every single day and still eat a restricted calorie diet to achieve that.

        Fair play to you getting in better shape, but the numbers are dubious and they aren’t realistic to suggest to others.

    3. The FIA requires two years of experience in international or top-level national racing before anyone’s allowed in a F1 car now. As a result, there would be time to get the gym strength up (without relying on an army boot-camp such as Martin describes, or any other method not specifically optimised to motorsport) and make the screen-to-track conversion before F1.

      The really valuable part of eSports to the formative process, apart from enabling drivers to practise more time than previously possible, is to help decide who should get the massive amount of money thrown at them to try a physical motor race in the first place. If it is possible to cheaply determine who could reasonably be given that chance, it would increase the quality of all candidates – those selected by that route and those who tried entering a different way alike (approximately 50% of people get nausea in hyper-realistic simulators, so unless that 50% is to be automatically excluded from F1 for a trait not necessarily tested there, other entry routes would need to remain open). Better competitors in the junior series eventually results in better competition in F1.

  8. At what time in UTC is the first test scheduled to begin?

  9. I wonder how Renault’s customer teams feel about the statement from Renault.

    Didn’t Ferrari go down this path in 2014 only to find that their PU was so robust and heavy it was completely uncompetitive?

    By saying that their not going to be chasing performance on their first engine, is that consigning all Renault powered teams to yet another year of mediocrity? – it’s hard to come back after you’ve been forced to write off 1/3 of your season.

    Can’t wait for reactions from Mclaren and RBR.

    1. Yeah. I had the same reaction after reading the article. I would think that Renault’s work during the winter was focused around fixing reliability, so that they would start the season chasing performance. Instead they’re starting the season with an update compromising performance for reliability. It’s definitely a disappointing start for Renault customers knowing that up until Barcelona, they’ll be on the back foot again in terms of pace.

      I actually feel that the new 3 engine will be the regulation change that affects the season the most. It’s incredibly disappointing to see half the engine manufacturers already know they can’t chase down Mercedes because of this regulation change. Just a shame.

      1. They’ve known for long enough about the 3 engine rule for 2018 that it shouldn’t have caught any of the teams out any more than 4 engines did. I don’t hear much outrage from the teams about 3 engines, and I think it is vastly more about fans assumptions that this somehow keeps Merecedes ahead. This reg change was not suddenly foisted upon them to their surprise and dismay, an atmosphere like some fans seem to like to portray.

        1. The engine manufacturers have learned that the FIA doesn’t care whether its decisions help or hinder F1, let alone the interests of the manufacturers. They’re more interested in getting their engines to meet requirements (which Mercedes has said would be quite difficult, meaning it would logically be more difficult for the others).

    2. I think Renault is trying to ensure that Renault teams are not consigned to 1/3 of a year of stuff blowing up. As Honda has proven, that is no recipe for improvement. I doubt McLaren was expecting much different in Year 1 of their new relationship, but Red Bull may very well moan if they find themselves knee-deep in midfield.

  10. Bernie really is the ultimate troll isn’t he! Twitter users across the world could learn a thing or two from him.

    1. It’s not like he’s the only person on earth to figure out that you can reach a huge audience by spewing out the most outrageously asinine opinions. I can think of a person or two who even rose to power in democratic systems that way …

  11. +1 to your last paragraph @todfod

  12. There is definitely a space in the entertainment industry for Esport and Motorsport lends itself well to it. If people think that someone can become an F1 race winner from using a simulator alone, they are very mistaken. However I do believe that there is a strong chance that a future champion could be one that combined an equal share of real racing and online sim racing. Ultimately it will get to the point where if you’re not practicing 16 hours a day, you’re going to be left behind.

    1. It will get to the point where E-racing overtakes real cars. Why spend 10k per year and getting up at 5am to start out in Karts with costs and effort spiriling out of control year by year to end up in a Formula with uneven grids and very little overtaking

      1. I haven’t watched much eSports, but they had an eSports race the night before Bathurst last year, and the race was bloody good. Three-way battle for the lead for most of the race, several position changes, but not too many. Was almost better than the real race.

        Not sure if it would overtake the real thing, but it will certainly garner a big following because it’s so accessible – a console (and maybe a wheel) and you can put yourself to the test.

        I found myself checking their lap times around Mt Panorama and trying to match them. I couldn’t, was over 5s off the pace, which made me even more impressed.

  13. Jeez who’s put 50p in Bernie?!

    1. Probably Bernie, as he has a few 50 p pieces lying around in his bank account ;)

  14. Hamilton may not have had the financial privilege of good competitors, but he was privileged to have a family who could get behind such a slim chance of success with such a singular commitment for him to make it.

    I don’t see eSports getting anyone into F1. Other racing categories for sure as we’ve already seen, but for F1 you need your actual backside in a kart seat developing the feel and skill in the real world. No matter how close gaming gets it just won’t cut it for developing an F1 racer in my opinion. Plus most eSports competitors start too late in life as crazy as it sounds.

    Plus with the price of a computer setup, steering wheel and seating rig, you still have to have a decent amount of financial privilege to partake.

    1. I think eSports can be the start of the process (especially as rigs more sophisticated than a desktop computer + wheel/pedal arrangement start getting easier for younger children to use), though getting the precise feel may take more physical time than most other series. It will still take financial priviledge (the specialist setting being the start but nowhere near the end of the testing for that priviledge), but it is likely to bring it back to the sort of level it was at when Lewis was trying to get through the formative years, rather than the (even more) grossly inflated level it is now.

      1. @alianora-la-canta

        I think it’s fine for getting people into other categories like GT and endurance racing. I just don’t ever see an F1 driver coming from eSports. They don’t tend to start at a young enough age, most F1 drivers were in karts at like 6-8 years old, and it just won’t give them the seat of the pants feeling that being on tarmac does. It’s close enough for the other categories I mentioned, but I’m not ever expecting one of only 20 people in the world to have come from eSports.

        1. Computerised sports can be entered from an (even) earlier age than karting, and with greater accessibility to more sophisticated rigs, eSports should be expected to follow the same pattern, at least for junior leagues. It is from these that I expect eSport-to-F1-via-2/3-years-of-intermediate-series competitors.

          (Senior leagues will probably remain for adults for cultural reasons. They, I admit, are unlikely to contribute many F1 drivers, for the same reason as senior – i.e. adult – karting doesn’t contribute any F1 drivers).

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