Anyone who took a closer look at F1 23 will have noticed a new tab which appears to refer to F1 Esports under a different name. It would appear there is a huge shake-up for this year’s Pro Championship.
F1 Esports has been around since 2017, with the best F1 game drivers competing for glory. It has produced champions like Brendon Leigh, David Tonizza, Jarno Opmeer and Lucas Blakeley.
What began with the first onsite grand final in Abu Dhabi was followed up by five fully-fledged seasons with real F1 teams involved. But now it would appear the series is making a big step up for 2023.
This includes a new set of organisers, a new season structure and even a brand new name that first appeared in the F1 game itself.
F1 Esports Is Now F1 Sim Racing
Since F1 23 launched in June, any player could load up the game and scroll over to the ‘Play’ section in the ‘F1 World’ menu and go to the tab furthest to the right. There, they can find the menu for ‘F1 Sim Racing’, and it features all of the information you would have found in the ‘F1 Esports’ section on previous games.
Also as seen in a tweet by Alfa Romeo’s Thomas Ronhaar, all of the sim rigs present at Grand Prix for usage by the attendees have been under the F1 Sim Racing banner. So it is safe to say that F1 Esports is now going under that name.
Why is that? Well, it might just be a very simple answer. Esports no longer carries positive connotations, at least in the racing game space. Sim Racing, on the other hand, is very much a synonym now for racing games and competitive events.
But that does not mean that F1 Esports/F1 Sim Racing is now changing over to a proper racing sim like rFactor 2 or Assetto Corsa? It will of course still be on F1 23, but is that really it? Just the name change? No – there appears to be much more.
Big Changes For 2023
OverTake has it on good authority that the upcoming F1 Sim Racing Pro Series will be a huge departure from previous seasons. Firstly, organisers from 2017-2022 Gfinity are no longer in control, with the championship now in the hands of ESL.
That is the same ESL as in ESL R1, meaning they are now responsible for the two sim racing championships with the biggest prize pools. But what will come as a rather welcome addition to many: Onsite events are back! F1 Sim Racing will run alongside not only a few Grands Prix but also big gaming conventions.
The season is set to begin in November alongside the Las Vegas Grand Prix. In the week immediately following that, the drivers compete at DreamHack Winter in Jönköping, Sweden. If you decide to attend, you will be treated to a double booking of ESL sim racing as the R1 Fall Season Major also takes place there.
The year ends in Georgia, USA at DreamHack Atlanta, but the season does not. Whereas past seasons would begin in September/October and end in December, this upcoming season runs into next year!
In February, the drivers will compete at the Intel Extreme Masters Expo in Katowice, Poland, the same convention that held the inaugural ESL R1 rounds earlier this year. The following month, the drivers will be in Jeddah supporting the F1 Grand Prix for the potential season finale.
F1 Sim Racing: Format Changes
The first three events are set to have two races run on Friday and Saturday respectively. Following from this, the next two have three races, one each day from Friday to Sunday. There may be more events planned, with the organisers intending to have 14 races in the season, up from the 12 ran every season since 2019.
Nothing has been officially confirmed currently. But if true, this sets up the series for the biggest spectacle that it has ever seen. After competing onsite at the Abu Dhabi GP once and in the Gfinity Arena in London every other time, then going exclusively online for three years, now the top F1 game drivers will be globetrotting with their teams.
It will be fascinating to see who will adapt best to this new ever-changing environment if it does prove true.
What do you make of these changes for F1 Sim Racing? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!