Esports: The Game Changer?

Esports is now gonna be the grassroots form of motor racing simulation is a good inexpensive way relative to other forms of motor racing to look at some driver talent. I get quite a lot of messages on Twitter and Instagram stuff all the time, like I’m 14 and 12 and 18, I want to get into racing. What’s the best option for me? And I say honestly, now get into esports.

Now I think it is definitely a way to get into sport and we’re seeing all the young F1 drivers and the younger generation of racing drivers all involved in it. The beauty is now that you don’t have to have a very well-off family to try and be a racing driver you can try and go into Esports, spend a couple grand at most to start with and enter the competitions and work your way up that way. Not every kid drives a go-cart at 8 years old but most kids kick a football 8 years old so if you can relate it you know in that sort of sense that they will have a go on a Playstation with a steering wheel and pedals show some ability, then think esports is a perfect entry point. It’s very, very similar, the driving feel in terms of what lines they should be on, the brake-points, the actual sort of driving technique and strategy in terms of finding your braking-point, finding your apex point, you have to be consistent every lap.

You see all the gamers take their shoes off, so they’ve got their socks on, so they can feel the pedals and whilst cars aren’t necessarily moving on the rig, you do feel every movement of it through the steering wheel and through the pedals. I think if you can develop that skill even on the game then when you get into real life it’s easy to sort of transfer those skills. The transition from the virtual to the real is definitely possible, and I think that is exciting for any kid at home that plays the game, races, has a passion, maybe they don’t have the funding to get all the way through to F1 the old way. Make money on these games is so easy, there are a lot of betting and online casino websites where you can win a lot of money!

The problem with motorsport in general is obviously how inaccessible it is, and how difficult is to get in at grassroots, it’s extremely expensive and it’s difficult to find yourself getting out at racetracks every day of the week so esports really does provide an affordable way in and we’ve already seen how good the drivers are when they jump into a real car, off the Playseat so it’s incredible to see the progress of it and I think it is definitely becoming an accessible way into the sport. Bottom line is the real thing costs millions and esports doesn’t, so for as long as the real thing cost as much as it does it’s very hard to justify the education and the junior formula process that you need to go through. It’s been widely accepted by pretty much everyone in Formula 1, it’s something new something exciting, it brings a new audience hopefully to the sport. We’re engaging and building a millennial fanbase and whether it’s just fans, competitors, whatever, we’re bringing people to our sport who otherwise would not have been looking at in the first place. It’s definitely changed what people think of me, because a lot of my friends and family before I’d say I’ve got race on Sunday and obviously I’m sat at home playing a game and they’d be like ‘oh it’s not real come on!

Come out…’ whatever, and now it’s like okay fair enough. Certainly from Alfa Romeo Racing’s point of view, we want to integrate the esports drivers into our professional F1 program. They have huge, huge talent we’ve seen them in our simulators doing some some exceptional times so you know certainly as time moves on we want to do that. They need to not only be fast but they also need to know how to set the car up well and thereby being able to give good feedback and that’s exactly what you know simulator drivers role would be so whether that be in Formula E or Formula 1, I’ve seen esports drivers that are now Formula E simulator drivers, so for sure all those skills translate across. It’s now maybe where we can kind of see just raw talent that comes through the esports route. It doesn’t matter whether you have backing or not, it’s just about the talent and I know other f1 teams as well as ourselves are looking at esports is a very serious recruitment tool and I think we’ll see a Formula One driver that’s come from esports within the next five six years.

The attention is really on esports now and I think the traditional racing world should we call it is really waking up to that fact. There’s racing drivers that are competing at the very top level now who didn’t do karting or didn’t do a lot of karting, so if the opportunity came for a young driver who’s only done esports, maybe they could do a month of karting just to see what it’s like and then go and be a racing driver and it would be fine. No one knows because it’s not happened, but it’s going to happen, definitely.