F1 looks to eSports gamers to spice up real-life racing action

Fancy yourself as a top sim racer? Formula One might be asking for your services in the near future as it looks to make racing more exciting.

Former Ferrari, Brawn and Mercedes team boss and now head of Motorsport for F1, Ross Brawn (below, right), has confirmed that the sport is looking closely at the eSports sim racing community for inspiration on how to spice up the action in F1. Speaking at a roundtable Q&A session attended by TrustedReviews today, Brawn said that “eRacers”, as he calls them, could be a useful tool in trying new things.

“There’s a huge community of eRacers out there through whom we could potentially put different environments and different changes to the way we race, and get them to tell us if the racing has improved or not.” For example, F1 could “change the aerodynamic properties of the [virtual] cars, does that create a different experience?”

BrawnLeft to right: Sean Bratches, Managing Director, Commercial Operations, Formula 1; Chase Carey, Chairman and CEO, Formula 1; Ross Brawn, Managing Director, Motor Sport (Image: Alex Griffiths for Formula One)

He added: “It’s not that far removed from the simulators the real teams use. A lot of the F1 teams use software generated from the games industry to give a more realistic environment for their driver simulators.

“We haven’t got a partner yet, but it’s on the agenda,” he concluded.

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Brawn’s comments come as F1 tries to catch up with the digital revolution that it’s missed out on over the last decade. The sport today announced a $50,000 prize along with its technical partner TATA Communications to find a techie way to enhance the fan experience.

The world of sim racing is going through something of a renaissance, with the likes of the World Touring Car Championship running its own official virtual racing series that exists alongside the real-world sport. With an already-excellent game in the form of the Codemasters F1 series, it doesn’t take too much imagination to see F1 doing something similar in the next few years.

F1 2016

As well as eSports, Brawn reckons F1 can learn from more “pure” sports that use shedloads of data to make play much more presentable to today’s modern fans.

He said: “We look at the enhancement of cricket with the extra information, the analysis that’s done. And that’s not a technological sport, that’s a pure sport. It’d be difficult to watch a cricket match now without all that information.

“And then with the Americas Cup where you need that technology to make it watchable, and without it you don’t have a clue what’s going on. We have a massive opportunity in F1.”

The 2017 F1 season continues this weekend at Silverstone, with a surprise F1 Live event in London  taking place tonight.