Future of F1’s Esports series in doubt as second round is called off


Posted on

| Written by

The future of Formula 1’s official esports series has been thrown into doubt following the cancellation of this weekend’s round.

The F1 Sim Racing 2023 World Championship, previously known as F1 Esports Series Pro Championship, is in its seventh season of competition. However it is enduring a troubled start to the first season since its rebranding.

Following disruptions to the opening event last month, a Formula 1 spokesperson confirmed to RaceFans its second round this weekend has been “postponed”, but did not indicate when it will take place.

“Formula 1 can confirm that event two of the F1 Sim Racing 2023 World Championship has been postponed,” it said in a statement supplied to RaceFans. “F1 will continue to work with the esports teams and partners and will provide a further update in due course.”

The series sees 20 drivers competing on the official Formula 1 racing game, EA’s F1 23. All 10 Formula 1 teams are officially represented, but cars are set to equal performance to put the competition’s onus on driver skill.

While previous seasons have received substantial promotion and marketing from Formula 1 and teams, the opening round of this year’s championship in Stockholm – the first live event held in-person since the onset of the pandemic – was not publicised in advance. Originally planned for a two-race event, the opening race scheduled for Friday 24th November was cancelled. The season-opener took place the following evening, won by Alfa Romeo esports driver Thomas Ronhaar.

The second round of the championship was set to take place this weekend, but no official details had been given about the venue of the event or which circuits would be raced at.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

In a video uploaded to his YouTube channel, Williams esports racer Marcel Kiefer, a multiple race winner in the simracing series, expressed his frustration at the start to the season.

“What’s going on in the background is pretty devastating to all drivers and team member that work so hard to make all of this happen,” Kiefer said.

“It sucks and I hope it’s going to change very soon, because there was a lot of excitement after round one, from all drivers, all teams. They deserve a good championship – the fans deserve a proper championship fight. I’m positive that this will get sorted eventually. I do not know when – I think nobody knows.”

The first two seasons of the F1 Sim Racing World Championship were won by current Alfa Romeo esports driver Brendon Leigh. Ferrari esports driver David Tonizza claimed the title in 2019, before Jarno Opmeer took back-to-back championships for Alfa Romeo and Mercedes esports. McLaren Shadow racer Lucas Blakeley won the series last year on F1 22.


    Browse all Gaming articles

    Author information

    Will Wood
    Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

    Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

    17 comments on “Future of F1’s Esports series in doubt as second round is called off”

    1. there must be some quite interesting data to be had from it, if they did it properly. Reaction times, fine muscle control, eye movement, all kinds of stuff. And then have the real drivers in and compare. Girls. F4 drivers…

    2. Gaming is losing a lot of investment across the industry in the current war-fueled economic downturn.

      It’s one thing when grassroots competitions or developer funded ones (iRacing, GT) grow to the size of having a world-wide audience. But these kind of artificially propped marketing exercises are always going to disappear once the money dries up.

      1. Gaming always experiences peaks and valleys. Kind of like F1.

    3. Gaming is losing a lot of investment across the industry in the current war-fueled economic downturn.

      Gaming is losing a lot of investment as the youth grow out of it and the adult members discover other activities to occupy their time.

      It was ever thus. “Space Invaders” consoles in pubs and gaming places only ever interested a minority, and they moved on.
      Blaming it on a “war fuelled economic downturn” ignores the fact that e-games are a fast-fashion item – here today, gone tomorrow.

      1. erm…. The eSports industry has been alive and growing since the 90’s with the CPL. Games like counterstrike and the “moba” likes, various RTS, have survived for decades with a professional scene. But feel free to continue to let your ignorance guide your comments. Matters not to me.

        1. It’s worth noting CS:GO survives in its own complete fantasy reality. The problem F1 eSports (and sims in general) has is they co-exist with the 1:1 counterpart (and it really is 1:1 down to physical inputs). They don’t exist alone in their own realm where the stars can be truly revered. They emulate reality whereas other more popular eSports are fantasies or extreme version of reality. A sim driver is emulating the real thing, whereas a top CS:GO player is a top CS:GO player in their own right, there’s no comparison to anything else.

          So why would I watch the sim version over real version? It’s a marketing quandary. You can’t promote one without undermining the other and is something very hard to get a decent r.o.i from. Hiring a venue, hosting drivers from around the world and a big prize pool for an audience which is very small. The actual growth of sim racing is limited by the real thing.

          So while I disagree with the premise of here today and gone tomorrow, there’s some validity in considering the actual growth potential of sim racing in a professional realm.

          * I have simmed for over 15 years, raced in LAN in-person events and organised sim leagues. Just want to clarify I am not ‘anti-sim’ in any way. This is more about the business of high level eSports sim racing.

          1. I’m of the same thought.

            I find the bigger e-sports are from games with (at least) a degree of separation form their “real” counterpart. And garner interest by being unique.

            (For instance: I would much rather watch a Street Fighter tournament than one for the UFC game)

            And the viewers are watching for how competitors use the depth of gameplay mechanics to outplay eachother.

            Compared to those, sim-racing e-sports come across as flat.
            Its almost like the strive for realism is what holds it back.
            The “racing is so easy to translate into an e-sport” being a double-edged sword.
            But it could also be down to there being so many sim-racing titles that try to cover the same niche. With none actually trying to ignite people’s imaginations.

            To go back to the example of fighting games:
            You could probably take a random layman and have them see the difference between Street fighter, Tekken, Smash Bros.
            But how would you show them the difference between Gran Turismo, Assetto Corsa, iRacing, Forza, Project CARS, rFactor, RaceRoom…
            Its a crowded space, where nothing really stands out (apart from name recognition).

            I’m not saying the F1 games need to be overhauled and throw random changes into the game to chase bigger competition engagement. Because still has to be on-brand.

            But if a racing game does want to aim for the heights of major e-sport titles (and not just survive on being linked to a major brand) then its ideas need to be bigger.

      2. Sorry, what? Youth are ‘growing out of it’? I hate seeing these misinformed comments about ‘e-games’ (literally lol), go read some reports on how people spend leisure time before you comment.

        Latest OFCOM report: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0029/272288/online-nation-2023-report.pdf

        13-15 years olds are spending almost 12 hours a week gaming on average, while thirty-eight per cent of UK adults aged 16+ play games online and 57% of UK children aged 3-15 do.

        1. 13-15 years olds are spending almost 12 hours a week gaming on average, while thirty-eight per cent of UK adults aged 16+ play games online and 57% of UK children aged 3-15 do.

          1. 38% (16+) is lower than 57% (3-15) – growing out of it and doing other things in all probability.

          2. The last time I looked, and since 1969, the UK definition of adult was 18+ (src(s): https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1969/46/section/1 and ONS GOV UK)
          Ofcom really should know better, I blame the education system these days. It wouldn’t be so bad if the most prominent source of info (wikipedia), although being far from perfect, managed to get the age of majority/adulthood right.

          I do recognise that some people continue to find it interesting, but very few have it as the all consuming interest they might have had when children. Since I appear to have struck a nerve or two, I will leave it there.

          1. I think you grossly underestimate the popularity of gaming. The grand theft auto 6 trailer breached 100,000,000 views in 24 hours.

            I think there’s a discussion to be had about the popularity of sim racing as a professional eSports venture as I state above, but outside of that discussion, there’s no doubt that eSports is big business – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uQYeXjkKMg – not some fad.

            1. The grand theft auto 6 trailer breached 100,000,000 views in 24 hours.

              I suspect you don’t know how those numbers arise. Stick a link to the trailer in an ad on the side of a popular page and if the popular page gets 10Million views the link collects the same number without anyone having to even click to follow the link.

              I think that one was explained recently as a reason why a Trump on line interview was credited with silly high viewing figures.
              Sorry to lower the tone with that name.

          2. Nope, that’s not what happened. GTA 6 is the most anticipated game in the world, by quite some margin. It got 35,000,000 views on X (Twiter), now sits at 146,000,000 on Youtube. The numbers here are astronomical that tally with the number of copies sold of the previous installment of the game – 190,000,000. GTA 6 will breach 250,000,00

            Right now on a random Friday, on Twitch, there’s over 200k watching people play CS:GO which is a competitive FPS game.

            eSports is no joke.

      3. Gaming has never been more popular than in this very second. And that statement is hardly going to change within the next years or even decades.

      4. Even if some people “grow out of it” (I play less games than I did when I was younger and has less responsibilities) there is a new generation of kids playing (my 9 year old son for example). Videogames are pretty mainstream now, infact bigger than movies and music combined in terms of revenue – https://www.thc-pod.com/episode/the-gaming-industry-is-now-bigger-than-movies-and-music-combined

    4. Coventry Climax
      15th December 2023, 10:51

      Nice discussion, guys.

      Does anyone know what it actually is, that they need to get sorted?

    5. Does anyone know what it actually is, that they need to get sorted?

      If I recall, the previous stories were reporting problems with connection drops and high latency.
      Basically an underspec host system, likely with too little bandwidth for the combined competitor and audience.

      Hey, if suppliers can underspec servers in medical systems, what’s a games’ server in terms of importance?

      1. Coventry Climax
        15th December 2023, 18:03

        I can give you the answer to that, but I won’t be surprised if it turns out I’m wrong, unfortunately.

    Comments are closed.