While the F1 Esports Pro Exhibition put prospective Pro Championship drivers through their paces, there was little for fans to get excited about in the broadcast.
Photo credit: Jacob Hancox / Codemasters
The F1 Esports Series Pro Exhibition took place on 27 May. In it, the talents of thirty different prospective F1 Esports Pro Series drivers were put on display for the benefit of both the F1 Esports teams and fans of the series. All the drivers were put through four different tests so that they could be ranked in four categories. These categories were experience, pace, consistency and adaptability. However, while these ratings were intended to present the drivers in a clear and accessible way, the picture that the event painted was more impressionistic than photorealistic.
A Confusing Spectacle
While each of the drivers took part in every challenge that made up the Pro Exhibition, none of these events were shown in full. Instead, the results and some very brief highlights from each of the twelve total challenges were crammed into just over an hour. This meant that no narratives were effectively conveyed, and the fans watching weren’t given the time or information needed to make up their own opinions of the drivers.
The top-rated drivers in the Pro Exhibition 💪@AlessioDiCapua6, @G2Sebi and @JoshIdowu_ were our strongest performers in the trials – look out for them later in the year 👀#F1Esports 🎮 #F1 @Aramco pic.twitter.com/jk2BvU0XUi— Formula 1 (@F1) May 27, 2021
Alongside these clips were interviews with the likes of Romain Grosjean and Guanyu Zhou weighing in via video calls, as well as discussions and explanations about the format of the event. These were fine in their own right, but it was not at all what the viewers were expecting. If one were to check the live chats during the event, they would have seen confused questions asking when the challenges will be shown. The lack of action being displayed in full nullified any potential excitement that fans might have experienced from the competition.
All this led to a sense of dissonance between the clips that were briefly shown on screen and the driver ratings which had been ascertained from the challenges. This all being said, the production quality was as good as ever with F1 Esports broadcasts. Naomi Schiff slotted in remarkably well to her role as desk analyst, while Nic Hamilton, Tom Deacon and Matt Gallagher were as professional as ever. However, the lack of on-track action certainly harmed interest levels from the fans.
Which drivers will make it?
At the end of the day, there were still revelations made about the field of drivers. As expected, Alessio di Capua, Sebastian Job and Josh Idowu were the three highest rated drivers after the show itself. With the window being open for teams to finalise the signing of drivers throughout the month of July, a few potential transfers can already be predicted. While Josh and Sebastian are both seemingly spoken for, Alessio will be a high priority for teams on the lookout for a fresh talent.
Josh Idowu, who was given the joint-second highest rating from the Pro Exhibition, is a McLaren Shadow driver already. He is yet to be confirmed for the 2021 F1 Esports Pro Championship, but there is little doubt that McLaren will take him on board. With Dani Moreno already having moved to Mercedes AMG Petronas Esports Team, there is a space wide open for the Welshman to slot into.
There is a similar story for sim racing all-rounder Sebastian Job. The Brit can be expected to sign with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing for the 2021 season, as he has already competed for the brand in a number of other racing esports series. If he joins, it will likely be at the expense of Tino Naukkarinen, as both Marcel Kiefer and Frede Rasmussen are unlikely to leave the Red Bull family. This may lead to a situation where all three drivers will be vying for the two seats.
Finally, Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen Esports has already announced that Thijmen Schütte, who received an overall rating of 84.5 in the Pro Exhibition, will be joining the team along with ex-FDA Hublot Esports Team third driver Filip Presnajder, and F1 Esports veteran Simon Weigang.
Which driver are you most excited about from the Pro Exhibition? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!