The grand finale of the Ferrari Driver Academy (FDA) Hublot Esports Series, Ferrari’s F1 esports competition which awards the victor a spot in its team, is set to conclude this weekend.
The event enters its penultimate phase today—concluding on Saturday—and will see 24 racers, 12 professional and 12 amateurs, compete for the top spot. As alluded to, the winner will secure a place on Ferrari’s Driver Academy for the next season of the F1 Esports Series, commencing in 2021.
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The event garnered a variety of partners, including Hublot as the event’s title sponsor. The watchmaker has been Ferrari’s official partner since 2011 outside of esports. Ferrari has also attracted gaming-peripherals manufacturer Thrustmaster as its technical partner for the event.
The car manufacturer offers on its website limited-edition, blue-light-protective Ray-Ban glasses designed for gamers, showcased by F1 Ferrari athlete Charles Leclerc and Thrustmaster-produced Ferrari gaming headsets, among others. The event highlights Ferrari’s approach to use esports as a technique to strengthen its fan engagement with a younger audience, however, the competition will also ultimately improve its own esports team and develop the sim racing competitive ecosystem.
F1 esports was bolstered by an appearance on national television earlier this year which was instigated by the COVID-19 lockdown. As a result, virtual Grand Prix events boasted a total of 30 million viewers across TV and digital media platforms—though average-minute-audience (AMA) numbers for streaming websites are difficult to access, making it difficult to gauge the esports’ true long-term viability relative to other esports titles.
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Much of F1 esports’ impressive viewership in 2020 was caused by a mix of the COVID-19 lockdown and the involvement of professional athletes on streaming sites, including racers Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris as well as England cricketer Ben Stokes.
The event’s finale begins today at 7:00pm GMT. Viewers can watch the event live on Ferrari’s official Twitch, Facebook and YouTube channels, links to all of which can be found here.
Esports Insider says: An esports partnership between two giant luxury brands like Ferrari and Hublot is a drop in the ocean to each of them, financially and resource-wise. Still, the facilitation of F1 esports by such huge brands makes for highly engaging marketing material, something many game developers and tournament organisers still sadly lack due to lack of resources. Overall, the event has been successfully used to cater to a younger demographic whilst bolstering its esports squad ahead of the F1 Esports Series next year.