Every year, Formula One goes through a dramatic game of musical chairs where drivers swap teams, join F1 for the first time or get dropped from the sport altogether. There are two big swaps that I’m looking forward to in the coming years.
- A Formula E driver making the jump up to Formula One
- A sim racer making the transition to Formula One, F2 or Formula E
And it’s all a lot closer than you might think. The lines between sport and eSport have become massively blurred when it comes to motorsport.
Sim Racer Beats Formula E Champion In Real Race
In January of this year, sim racer Enzo Bonito took on Formula E champion Luca di Grassi in a real-world one-on-one race. Bonito had a handful of runs in a real car before the race, but still, this was an astonishing achievement for the sim racer.
While it’s all very impressive, it shouldn’t be too surprising. Simulator time is a crucial part of every F1 driver’s schedule. If you remove the g-forces, admittedly a massive factor, from the racing, real-world F1 racing and sim racing is remarkably close. It gives racing eSports a particularly special place in the world of eSports. I can only compare the accuracy to that of how pilots train in hyperrealistic simulators for airlines.
It’s also interesting to note, it goes both ways.
Max Verstappen and Lando Norris Race For Team Redline
Speaking at the Baku Grand Prix this weekend, Lando Norris was asked which drivers he chats with when the drivers gather for the track parade. He mentioned that he knows Max Verstappen relatively well. Turns out it’s not just because they’re somewhat close in age, but the two actually race for Team Redline.
Team Redline is a sim racing team which has competed around the world for the past twenty years. What’s really impressive is that the team has two full-time F1 racers running for them. McLaren’s Lando Norris and Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen line up together for the team and according to Norris in Baku, could line out together next weekend in a race.
What Does This Mean For Motorsport?
GAA fans might know where this is headed. I’m almost certain that it’s only a matter of time until we have dual-stars. F1 has thrown a lot of support behind eSports in general and looks like it plans to maintain that support into the future. Younger F1 drivers are really changing the face of the sport. Lando Norris himself is very active on social media with many social media and motorsport fans loving how he’s using social.
— Lana🏳️🌈 (@lanabreman) April 25, 2019
The funny thing is Sebastian Vettel, also interviewed in Baku, described how he can’t relate to the social media generation and doesn’t want to share his whole life on social.
This new generation or racer is almost as interested in what they can achieve online as what they can achieve on the track. What this means for the future is the birth of dual stars, that race and make sponsorship money on track and online.