F1 teams select their F1 Esports Series drivers | FOS Future Lab
The ten Formula 1 teams have picked their driver line-ups for the autumn’s official F1 Esports Series, in a live-streamed “Pro Draft” event.
Each of the official entries in the real Formula 1 world championship also fields a team in the F1 Esports Series, with Ferrari the last team to join for the 2019 season. They all have a three-driver line-up, but there’s a catch: at least one driver must come from the Pro Draft. This is a live driver selection event that features players who’ve qualified via online racing, and available drivers who participated in the previous season’s championship but are without a drive for the current season.
As it’s a draft-style event, the first choice goes to the lowest finishing team from the previous year. For 2020 that honour went to Haas, and it chose the German driver Simon Weigang. In 2019 Weigang drove for the Renault team, but only participated in four races. However he scored solid points in three of those races, and Haas seemed pretty keen to add him to the roster. Weigang joins his 2019 Renault team-mate Cedric Thome, who signed for Haas earlier this year, and Floris Wijers who drove for the American team last season..
AlphaTauri was next up, and unusually chose the exact same draft pick as last season. Manuel Biancolilla joins what was Toro Rosso last year, joining up with Patrik Holzmann. The team’s new driver is Joni Tormala, who helped Red Bull to the constructor’s title last season.
Proving that gaming and reality are not necessarily as closely linked as we’d sometimes like to believe, Mercedes finished 8th last season and got to pick next. It’s already fielding a very strong squad, with 2017 and 2018 champion Brandon Leigh remaining at the team, and Bono Huis switching from McLaren. Unlike Haas and AlphaTauri, Mercedes opted to pick a newcomer, with Bari Boroumand – who won the qualification process on the PS4 platform – joining for 2020.
Racing Point had next pick, and selected Shanaka Clay. Clay is new to the series and placed third in the Xbox platform qualification, but is a familiar name for the team. The esports series ran a “Pro Exhibition” event alongside the Virtual Grand Prix over the spring and summer, and Clay took part in two events for Racing Point, winning one. Pro Exhibition series overall winner Lucas Blakely stays with the team, as does Daniel Haddad.
Thanks to drivers moving to other teams, McLaren has an all-new line-up for 2020, starting with the World’s Fastest Gamer winner James Baldwin. The team also picked up Matthias Cologon ahead of the Pro Draft, and added Dani Moreno to the squad in the draft. Both drivers qualified for last year’s draft but were not selected.
Williams retains its lead driver, 8th placed Alvaro Carreton, and add Alfa Romeo’s Salih Saltunc alongside him. Michael Romanidis joins the team off the back of a successful Pro Exhibition series for Williams, qualifying through the PS4 platform playoffs.
Out of all of the teams, Renault was the only one to pick two drivers from the draft. Casper Jansen, who won the PS4 platform time trial event, will join 2017 season runner-up Fabrizio Donoso Delgado (pictured) as the team’s draft picks. Renault also signed Nicolas Longuet from championship-winning Red Bull, in a complete driver line-up change from 2019.
The Alfa Romeo team will retain its third-place driver Daniel Bereznay for 2020, adding Jarno Opmeer – who finished one place behind him – from Renault, in what might be one of the strongest contracted driver pairings. Its draft pick is Dominik Hoffman, PS4 platform play-off winner and 2018 Pro Draft qualifier, who’ll make his series debut.
Ferrari won the driver’s title last year with Pro Draft pick David Tonizza, and he stays with the team for 2020, with Enzo Bonito joining from McLaren. They’ll be joined by Filip Presnajder, who was the winner of the PC platform qualification “Challenger Series” by a considerable margin – and the team stands a good chance of going a step further this season.
Champions Red Bull retain their runner-up driver Frederik Rasmussen for 2020, adding Marcel Kiefer from Racing Point who placed sixth in 2019. The team has opted for experience in the third seat, adding Tino Naukkarinen as its draft pick. Naukkarinen has had two seasons with the Williams team, placing 11th and 13th.
The racing all gets underway on 14th and 15th October, with the first three races at the Bahrain International Circuit, Vietnam’s Hanoi Circuit, and the Shanghai International Circuit.
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