How to become an F1 Esports driver

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F1 2020
You have always wanted to become an F1 Esports driver? We have some pro tips for you!
Photo credit: Codemasters

Many gamers dream of competing in the F1 Esports Pro Series 2020 and helping a real-world Formula 1 team earn their share of the $750,000 prize pot. However, just 30 drivers get the chance every year. Only the fastest and most-dedicated drivers reach the top of any series, and F1 Esports is no different.

Natural talent will only get you so far, so here’s some pointers that may boost your chances of reaching the pinnacle of F1 2020’s online competition.


Join a racing league



Prior to F1 Esports, the fastest gamers on the official F1 games competed in racing leagues. There wasn’t the same level of money, time or press coverage, but the competition used to be just as fierce in the top splits of racing leagues as it is in F1 Esports today.

The racing league scene has exponentially grown in line with the expanded user base of the F1 games. Joining a league, whether it’s in the top or bottom tier, is the best – and most enjoyable – way to learn the fundamentals of racing.

You can develop your racecraft as well as strategic elements such as tire choice and fuel and ERS usage. It’s also a chance to meet like-minded people and forge friendships. You can all push each other to improve and become better drivers.




Watch onboards and steal set-ups



Just as real-world racing drivers do, comparing your onboards with those from the best in the business can help you find those extra tenths of a second. You can copy which gear the likes of Pro Series points leader Jarno Opmeer uses into each corner. There’s plenty of onboards from many of the top F1 Esports drivers available across YouTube.

You can also download their set-ups from the time trial leaderboards. Just be aware that the exact set-ups used by the Pro Series drivers are often not used in time trial to avoid their set-up secrets being revealed. There’s a number of set-up exploits in each F1 game, that perhaps go against realism but can make a significant pace difference. Therefore, you shouldn’t be afraid to try set-up changes that might be considered outside the box or ones which would be unlikely to work in real-life.




Turn off the assists and get a wheel and pedals



Although this may seem daunting, it’s an essential part of any driver’s journey to becoming an F1 Esports driver. You will never make it unless you can race without assists and with a racing wheel and pedals.

Traction control and the racing line are usually the two most difficult assists to turn off, but both can be overcome with practice. Turning off traction control can help you get more feeling with your car and reduce tire wear. The racing line doesn’t always show the optimal braking distance, so turning it off can help you avoid the temptation of braking earlier than you need and thus losing vital lap time.

If you’re new to F1 2020 or racing games in general, you may want to find your groove on a controller first. However, if you’re set on reaching the virtual pinnacle of F1, then buy yourself a solid wheel and pedals set. You don’t need to buy the flashiest wheel on the market but just something that’s reliable. In case you need some inspiration, our hardware reviews might help you with your choice!




Practice, practice, practice…



OK, this one sounds obvious… but you have to practice if you want to stand any chance of getting anywhere near the F1 Esports series. Esports is the full-time occupation of most of the drivers, so in order to break onto the grid, you’ll need to try and come as close to matching that level of commitment as possible.

When you have a bad league race or you’re struggling after turning off all of the assists, don’t throw in the towel. Instead, start practicing for your next league race or persevere with running no assists until you can match your fastest lap time with them.




Build a social media profile



A bonus non-essential pointer, but perhaps one that you may want to consider if you want to give yourself that extra edge. You could build your social media profile by sharing your league racing highlights or time trial world record attempts.

If you’re able to beat the times of F1 Esports drivers during league races, shouting about this on social media can get you noticed by the F1 Esports teams.

The power of the community was shown in lockdown, when Williams Esports asked for suggestions of who to run in the F1 Esports Pro Exhibition race at Canada track, and people overwhelmingly voted for Shanaka Clay. He was able to take pole position and the win and ultimately earned himself a drive with BWT Racing Point Formula 1 Team for the 2020 Pro Series.

Social media can also be a curse, if you end up criticizing the game, other drivers and teams – i.e. anybody but yourself – you may end up putting off your potential future employees.




How do you actually qualify?



There are two main ways to qualify for a space in the F1 Esports Pro Draft. The first is to compete in the F1 Challenger Series – a five-round online series. The second is comprised of weekly challenge events followed by a time trial event. You can find more information here.

Do you want more tips on how to progress as a sim racer? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg!
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