F1 this year has seen "two pushes into the esports market, with the start of an official Formula One Esports Series and the McLaren F1 team’s World’s Fastest Gamer competition," according to Kate Walker of the N.Y. TIMES.
Working with game developer Codemasters and esports event organizer Gfinity, F1 "created a global online championship with almost 64,000 participants."
F1 Global Head of Digital & New Business Frank Arthofer said, "In racing you have the ability to really simulate, and I think at some point in the future there will come a time when an esports driver is in an F2 car."
Nielsen Sports last month "released the results of a study of esports fans" in Britain, the U.S., France and Germany, and found that the audience is "predominantly male," 71%, and young, with an average age of 26. Nielsen Sports Head of Motorsport Europe Samantha Lamberti: "There are sports — and motorsport in particular — that are naturally related to esports and gaming. If Formula One as a governing body, or teams like McLaren, get involved with esports and build competitions — as they are doing — it is a good thing for the sport as a whole. … The strategy to use esports to attract them, to make the fan base a little bit younger, is a very good move: It shows that the sport understands the trends and understands when and how to embrace them."
Arthofer has "big plans for the esports series, which he sees as integral to Formula One’s future digital offerings."
Arthofer: "We look at the return on investment in Year 1 as building the brand F1 Esports, building the fan base and building the player base, and we feel like ‘check, check, check. Next year we’ll probably go through a tender process for TV broadcasts and/or digital broadcast partner. We’ve already got a lot of sponsors at the table to come in and do the presenting for next year."
While McLaren has developed its own esports initiative this year, Arthofer said that the teams have been "asking to get involved in the Formula One Esports Series in the future." N.Y. TIMES