Renault’s real-world F1 team and their F1 eSports counterparts came together last weekend at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in an exciting face-off.
Before the real race action began, Renault F1 Team drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hülkenberg were matched up with F1 eSports Series Renault Sport Team Vitality drivers, Jarno Opmeer and Cedric Thomé to see who ruled the eSports roost.
The four engaged in some friendly rivalry, bashing out laps on F1 2019, the official Formula 1™ game by Codemasters – the sim that will feature in the upcoming 2019 Formula 1 New Balance Esports Pro Series.
Dutchman Jarno, a three-time Karting Netherlands Champion and former Renault Academy driver said: “It was super-fun to play against Nico and Daniel. Nico said beforehand that he doesn’t play many games but he did really well and even managed to sabotage me at the end of his lap. I think he might need a five second stop-and-go penalty for that!
“The biggest tip I can pass on to them to improve is just play the game more – whenever they have some spare time. I never thought I’d get to play against the real F1 drivers. It was super-incredible.”
German-born Cedric, an Apex Online Racing Xbox Champion and F1 ESport 2017 Finalist, agreed with his team mate. “I really enjoyed racing against them. It was really cool and interesting to see how good they were on the simulator,” he said. “Daniel did very well at it and impressed me. I think they just need to practice a little more and they could both be very good eSports drivers.”
Jarno and Cedric will soon be joined by another Renault Sport Team Vitality member, Simon Weigang, ahead of the 2019 F1 New Balance Esports Pro Series.
The German was one of 10 talented eSports racers who made the Pro Draft final on July 17. He was signed by Renault Sport as an official F1 eSports driver to race professionally for the team in the 2019 Formula 1 New Balance Esports Pro Series.
Now, in its third season, the Pro Series will consist of 12 races contested over four live events on September 11, October 2 and November 6 – with the final to be held on December 4. The series will see drivers compete for a share of a huge $500,000 prize fund – more than double that of last year.
Renault Sport Team Vitality will compete along with nine other teams for the Pro Series championship, making it the biggest and most ambitious season yet.
The other teams are: Ferrari Driver Academy, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports, Red Bull Racing Esports, Alfa Romeo Racing F1 Esports, McLaren Shadow, Haas F1 Team Esports, Scuderia Toro Rosso Esports, SportPesa Racing Point F1 Esports Team and Williams Esports.
A broadcaster has yet to be announced for the Pro Series but competition for the rights could be as fierce as the racing given the huge amount of talent that will be on display.
Watch this space for more eSports updates.