F1 DEEP DIVE: The Rise of Esports

The sun is now destined to rise over Formula 1’s 2020 season at Austria’s Red Bull Ring, with the action set to kick-off from July 3-5, bringing an end to the sport’s longest break in the modern era - more than seven months, due to the COVID-19 crisis.

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The sun is now destined to rise over Formula 1’s 2020 season at Austria’s Red Bull Ring, with the action set to kick-off from July 3-5, bringing an end to the sport’s longest break in the modern era…

…more than seven months, due to the COVID-19 crisis.

And that time away from the track has seen - not just the teams’ adapting their state-of-the-art facilities to rapidly produce ventilators and breathing aids in the fight against the pandemic...

But, ultimately, the rise of Esports, which has smashed misconceptions as it’s filled in for live sport- according to Codemasters’ F1 Franchise Game Director Lee Mather, who spoke exclusively with The Inside Line.

SOUNDBITE (English) LEE MATHER, F1 GAME DIRECTOR, CODEMASTERS: “I think people were just sort of put off by their ‘oh, it’s gaming, it’s gaming, it’s for kids’ - and you know, they watch it and they’re like ‘hang on a second’. This is amazing! The racing’s really exciting, it looks phenomenal, it’s very realistic. So I think we were already on that journey and that’s where we always saw it getting to.”

Putting the spectacle on live TV though, is a serious, technical challenge - with drivers across the globe - and with varying internet speeds. But, F1 game developer Codemasters has been there from the outset.

SOUNDBITE (English) LEE MATHER, F1 GAME DIRECTOR, CODEMASTERS: “So we obviously have the best knowledge of the game, and we have an Esports coordinator who actually helps to run all of the events. So he’s responsible for getting people into the lobby, making sure it’s all up and running, helping them with hardware setup. I jump in on some of those sometimes and practise with the drivers to give them a bit of extra track time. So we’re heavily involved in all of those events.”

And while the sport has been forced to follow the 2019 calendar - with F1 2020 set for global release on July 10 - meaning a fan-voted race held at Brazil’s iconic Interlagos circuit instead of Zandvoort…

… it’s still attracting new fans to the sport, not just from the mainstream via the TV broadcasts - but an entirely new demographic as well.

SOUNDBITE (English) LEE MATHER, F1 GAME DIRECTOR, CODEMASTERS: “There’s obviously an audience now where they’re gamers, but they are not necessarily Formula 1 fans. And I think we’re now introducing them to the sport - and they’re starting to see what an exciting sport it is and how it’s not just a game, it’s a game of an amazing sport.”

It’s a realm only set to grow, as more people join the thrilling, immersive and accessible world of Esports.