Hublot and Ferrari are inviting amateur sim races to enter a brand new Esports Series that will fire up in September.
The first series is eligible only to European residents, but the concept looks certain to be expanded globally, and coverage of the races will be aimed at a world-wide audience.
Stay at home orders, coupled with the postponement of every major sporting fixture in the first half of the year, has seen video gaming and esport participation and viewing surge.
Verison reported in April that peak hour video game usage in the first week of lock down was up 75% in the United States.
Gaming as a spectator sport also rocketed. Twitch, one the world’s biggest streaming platforms for gamers, is estimated to have grown its audience by up to a third in March alone.
A Virtual Formula 1 race with the sport’s current real world drivers generated 2 million views on YouTube in May. Virtual Nascar races have also proved popular during lock down.
The Ferrari Hublot Esports Series will start with a GT championship organized by Ferrari in Europe on the “Assetto Corsa” software platform developed by Kunos Simulazioni.
Series drivers will do battle in several competitions aboard the Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo, which is being made available exclusively to participants.
“We are really proud to be title sponsor of this competition organised by Ferrari. Hublot is at the cutting edge of technology in the luxury watchmaking industry and for me being part of the e-sport discipline was a given, even more so as we are doing it with our long time partner, Ferrari,” says Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe.
Winners in the Ferrari Hublot Esports Series will qualify for other competitions including the PRO Series, a category numbering 24 Esports drivers who will compete on the same circuits as their amateur counterparts.
The 12 fastest drivers in each category to emerge from the four October races will go forward to the finals in November when the overall winner will be decided over three races.
The overall winner will be offered the opportunity to join the FDA Hublot Esports team for the following season. That team currently includes reigning F1 Esports Drivers’ Champion Tonizza and Enzo Bonito, a hugely experienced sim racer.
Charles Leclerc, ambassador for the championship and a huge Esports fan himself, will be following all the stages very closely and offering participants advice based on his experience as both a real and Esports driver.