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2018 Formula 1 Esports Series Move To The Next Stage As Teams Drafted Top Qualifying Players
The 2018 Formula 1 Esports Series is the second round of the motorsport’s esports endeavours, which see a change of format. Nine of the ten F1 teams are now participating directly in the series now with the chance to recruit top players from the many qualifying rounds played on Codemasters’ F1 2017 across the three platforms: PS4, PC and Xbox One.
From 66,000 participants, the top 40 players- 36 through the qualifier events, two wildcard slots and two of the top 3 finishers from last year’s finals, joined the Pro Drafts where all the F1 teams’ esports division (with Ferrari being the sole absence) pick at least one of them to join the team, with up to a maximum of three picks per team.
The players also attended the British Grand Prix last weekend, which then lead to a series of tests, including reaction time testing, actual go-kart races and of course, racing in the simulator rigs, all under the watchful eyes of team scouts as part of the Pro Draft.
From the 40 players, 16 were selected with a driving gig for the second leg of the F1 Esports Series. Four teams elected to only pick the mandatory one person. Williams Esports received the first pick indeterminate from a random draw and selected Finn Tino Naukkarinen. Mercedes picked up Hungarian Daniel Bereznay whilst Hype Energy Eforce India picked the young Chilean Farbizio Donoso Delgado who was runner-up in last year’s finals. The newly-branded McLaren Shadow elected to pick Olli Pahkala, a sim racing veteran from Finland.
Red Bull Racing Esports and Toro Rosso picked a pair of drivers each. Red Bull picked British Graham Caroll and Joni Tormala of Finland while Toro Rosso grabbed the highly-rated Turkish Cem Bolukbasi and German Patrick Holzmann. F1 drivers Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly, representing Red Bull and Toro Rosso respectively, made an appearance to announce the teams’ selection for the Pro Draft. Haas F1 elected the Chezch pair of Martin Stefanko and Michal Smidl into their fold.
Only two teams that went for the full three picks. Renault Sport Team Vitality, a joint-venture effort from the French marque’s F1 team and the established European esports brand, selected 2nd runner-up of 2017 Sven Zurner, Kimmy Larsson from Sweden and James Doherty from England. Sauber, which has a joint-venture deal with racing-focused esports org Veloce has picked up Dutch Aller van der Wal and the pair of brothers- Salih and Sonuc Saltunc.
There were certainly many emotions as the Pro Draft slowly unravels, with the 16 players all elated to be part of an F1 team. You can view the archived livestream of the process, held at the Gfinity Arena in London:
The second leg of the F1 Esports Series will begin sometime this fall using the new F1 2018 game from Codemasters. Each team will field two of their maximum roster of three drivers for each race. As for teams with only one draft pick, they are likely to have built a roster on their own already which will be unveiled soon enough.