Formula 1’s Esports series attracted over four million viewers through television and a dedicated live stream in 2018.
Nine of the 10 F1 teams entered this year’s Esports series, with only Ferrari absent as official outfits fought for a teams’ championship for the first time. After four online qualifying rounds earlier in the year, a pro draft saw the teams select drivers for their line-ups in July, with 16 of the 26 seats being filled through the draft.
The ‘Pro Series’ itself took place over three separate events in London, all of which were broadcast live. Viewing figures through television networks hit 1.2 million while a further 3.2m tuned in via the live stream.
With over 100 million social media impressions and 20 million online video views of F1 Esports content, F1’s managing director of commercial operations Sean Bratches says the younger audience opens up opportunities for different brands to get involved, with 70% of viewers who watched the final being under the age of 34.
“2018 was a pivotal year for our efforts with respect to Formula 1 Esports as it saw the inclusion of the first official teams and built firm foundations for the future success of the series,” Bratches said. “The exponential growth in esports is a material fan engagement and commercial opportunity for us on myriad fronts and we plan to remain in the vanguard as we move into the 2019 season.
“Our continued focus will be on broadening opportunities for the next generation of motorsport fans and brands that understand the value of this audience and are hence investing in this space. Formula 1’s message is clear that esports is an open door for anyone with a passion for gaming and racing.”
A prize fund of $200,000 was allocated to the teams based on their positions in the teams’ championship, which was won by the Mercedes AMG Petronas Esports team, while Brendon Leigh again secured the drivers’ title.
Bratches has previously stated his hope that Ferrari will join the series in 2019, as well as wanting to see a more diverse set of drivers in future.
“I’m an optimist by nature and I’m somewhat confident that we’re going to have a full stack and a full grid next year,” Bratches told Reuters at this year’s final.
“This is an open championship, the second year in a row where we’ve had well over 60,000 competitors compete in millions of laps to be here. It is a meritocracy and the fastest times ended up in the draft.
“We’ve stated clearly from Formula 1’s perspective, not only in the real world but the virtual world, that we’d love to have as diverse a grid as possible not only from a gender standpoint but an ethnicity standpoint. It just makes our sport better.”