The Formula One season is over, but the thirst for racing is never quenched. Here is some virtual racing that you can sink your teeth into during the off-season.
Image credit: iRacing
We’ve now entered the F1 off season, which means we are already surrounded by those terrible memes about ‘Day X without F1’. Yes, we know you pretend like you’re slipstreaming people you’re walking behind. Anyway, rather than acting like the world of racing has ground to a halt, we should instead stop feeling sorry for ourselves and focus our attention on the many series outside of F1.
There’s plenty of real world racing that occurs between December and March, but this is OverTake! We are specifically going to shine a light on a load of virtual racing that will take place throughout the downtime of F1.
Virtual Grand Prix
When the 2020 season got postponed, the F1 Esports organisers began hosting the F1 Virtual Grand Prix races in order to fill in the void. Along with Veloce Esports Not the GP series on the F1 game, drivers along with online content creators, celebrities and other sporting athletes would compete for a bit of fun.
During the last F1 off-season, they brought back the series for a run of three straight weeks where the teams paired their F1 Esports Pro Series 2021 drivers with the usual competitors consisting of F1 drivers, celebrities, athletes, content creators and more. The esports drivers would do a five lap sprint race to set the grid positions for the main race, where the driver they qualified for would then take over.
It was largely a light-hearted bit of fun to keep us all entertained, and the teams who competed in the Virtual Grand Prix series did so for a good cause. There was a prize pool split amongst the teams who then sent the money they earned to a charity of their choice. Currently, we have no official word as to when or if the Virtual Grand Prix races will be run again, but it’s likely that they will be. Be sure to tune in to F1’s official channels to find out more about the Virtual Grand Prix should it return. Expect it to return in late January or early February at the latest.
Formula SimRacing IndyPro
Not long ago, we covered Formula SimRacing and the Grand Prix Virtual World Championship, but one thing we didn’t mention is that the former runs an IndyCar series when their main championships are not active.
In the most recent season, well known teams like Burst Esport, BS+COMPETITION, Williams Esports and even Red Bull Racing Esports even all participated.
Winner of the last Road Course Round of IndyPRO is @PetarBrljak! We had some great racing around Sebring again! In the new year we return with the Oval races.@TraxionGG @rFactor2 @simformula @TREDIRAP @EuSimlab pic.twitter.com/y5TIMPhMs6— Formula-SimRacing (@FSR_esports) December 19, 2021
After three rounds of two races each, it’s all tight at the top with two races to go, with the top four separated by only seven points. So tune in to FSR’s YouTube channel on 2 January on the Apple Valley Speedway and the final round on 9 January for the 300 mile race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and see who comes out on top.
Since 2019, Veloce Esports have held short races in a series called Squadsprint, and it has seen the esports drivers and content creators who are part of Veloce and their affiliate teams go head-to-head. They even had team co-founder and two-time Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne as well as Real-Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois competing in recent seasons.
In the first two seasons, the series raced on the F1 game and both instances saw Daniel Bereznay taking the glory. For season three, the series switched to Assetto Corsa and 2022-style F1 cars and James Baldwin was the one to emerge victorious.
The races aren’t broadcasted live but when they are uploaded, they’ll appear on the Veloce YouTube channel. You can be sure you will be treated to some great racing between drivers from Veloce, YAS HEAT, Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen Esports, McLaren Shadow, Mercedes AMG Petronas Esports Team, Lando Norris’ Quadrant and also players from outside the Veloce family in the All-Stars team.
F1 Esports Challengers
If you want to see the drivers who will end up in the F1 Esports Series Pro Championship in the coming years, then you will want to watch F1 Esports Challengers. You can tune in to the PlayStation races on Tuesdays, Xbox races on Wednesdays and PC races on Thursdays, and all three platforms have indeed proven over the years to be the launchpad for drivers in the Pro Championship.
In the last year, the PlayStation series saw Thijmen Schütte, Domenico Lovece, Matthijs van Erven and Dario Iemmulo all get signed to F1 Esports teams. On the PC side, champion Alessio Di Capua graduated as did Josh Idowu and Patrik Sipos.
Details about the upcoming season are not yet confirmed. However, we happen to know – subject to official confirmation – that the opening rounds on all platforms are intended to take place 4-6 January, and there will be 12 races on each platform running until March. Unlike the Pro Championship, the races will be broadcast on the F1 game’s YouTube channel.
EDIT (01/01/2021): The season starts on 18-20 January.
Le Mans 24 Virtual
The highly acclaimed Virtual Le Mans in June 2020 set into motion what would become the Le Mans Virtual Series, which has been going on since September of 2021. In this series, esports drivers and real racers share an LMP or GTE car in online races on rFactor 2 and they compete for a portion of the $250,000 prize pool, half of which is given out based on the final standings and the other half for the finishing order of the last race. That last race being the second rendition of the Le Mans 24 Virtual.
Two real world drivers and two sim racers will make up each of the over 50 entries. Originally, they were supposed to gather at the Autosport International show in Birmingham, UK on the weekend of 16 January but the event was postponed. So the Le Mans race will take place remotely just like the first four LMVS races.
After the most recent round which was the 500 mile race around the Sebring circuit, the LMP class is tight at the top, being led by the #4 Floyd ByKolles-Burst car by only half a point from the #123 Team Redline entry. In the GTE class though, there’s a much more convincing lead for the #71 BMW Team Redline which is 12.5 points ahead of the #91 Porsche Esports Team. So who will take the majority of the $125,000 prize pool for the final standings and the other $125,000 for winning the Virtual Le Mans?
Top level league racing
What do F1 Esports drivers do the other eight months of the year when the Pro Championship isn’t ongoing? Why they do league racing of course. The ones where you will find a lot of the drivers who race in the Pro Championship are Premier Sim Gaming Leagues and World Online Racing.
We covered PSGL in the leadup to their top tier PC season, and it was absolutely bursting with talent. Some came and went, especially with preperations for the upcoming F1 Esports season forcing many drivers to prioritise that over league racing. As a result, after PSGL initially intended to run their top PC tier into November, they decided to call it to an early end the week before the F1 Esports season began.
Missing battles like this. 🥲— Dan | 🎙 (@danfieldf1_) November 30, 2021
PSGL off-season feeling like forever at the moment. Here is an excellent battle between @jarno_opmeer and @Joe_Hannon_ at the finale in Portimao 🇵🇹.
I hope next season there can be more battles like this one in #PSGLS30 @PremierSimGL pic.twitter.com/3zCGoKMpSy
Not only are there the top PC tiers for both PSGL and WOR (which have typically occupied Thursday and Sunday evening slots respectively), you also have the many other tiers on every platform including PlayStation and Xbox that not only you can watch but even participate in yourself! Seek out a community that hosts league racing if you fancy getting involved in the action with likeminded, equally skilled players.
VCO Esports Racing World Cup
Racing on one platform is difficult enough, so imagine having to juggle three. The Virtual Competition Organisation have been revolutionising the esports racing competition format and soon, you will be able to watch the culmination of all their work with perhaps the most unique tournament in all of esports racing.
The ERWC will test drivers on iRacing, rFactor 2 and Assetto Corsa Competizione, 30 teams will do battle on all three platforms for their share of a $50,000 prize pot. This is the ultimate test of an esports driver, providing a true challenge to their versatility. The best esports drivers are ones who can be quick in all types of cars, at all types of tracks, on all types of racing games.
WANTED: THE BEST ESPORTS RACING ORGANISATION IN THE WORLD. 🌎🌍— VCO 🕹🏎 (@vcoesports) March 31, 2021
3 PLATFORMS. 30 TEAMS. 1 TOURNAMENT. 🏆🏆
ERWC I. 21-30 JANUARY 2022. WATCH THIS SPACE. #vcoesports #erwcI@iRacing @rFactor2 @AC_assettocorsa @RaceSpotTV @sim_grid @rccoworldex @FundRazr pic.twitter.com/SbudicCxNl
Initially set to take place over ten days in January, instead it will now be compressed to three days. You can watch the inaugural Esports Racing World Cup on VCO’s official YouTube and Twitch channels from 28-30 January.
Porsche Esports Supercup
Last but by no means least, the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup which will be running its fourth season as the officially designated iRacing World Championship. After the first two years which saw it spread between April/May to September/October, the most recent season took place between January and April. This upcoming season begins 5 February on the Hockenheimring, and it concludes on 4 June at Monza, and a selection of iconic venues will be visited along the way including Silverstone, the Nordschleife and Le Mans.
The series is ripe for a shakeup, with leading outfit Coanda Simsport confirming the withdrawal of many of their drivers, including 2021 runner-up Mitchell deJong as well as 2019 and 2021 champion Joshua K Rogers. This could perhaps mean an easy run to a second title for 2020 champion Sebastian Job. It’s unlikely to be too straightforward for Job, however, as the series boasts quite a strong grid.
#PESC – We asked our All-Stars about their favourite moment of the season. @MattMaloneTV, @JimmyBroadbent, @JaroslavHonzik & co. answered. Join us live in our studio on 24 April for the last race of the Porsche @TAGHeuer Esports Supercup by @iRacing at 16:50 (UTC) #NeverNotRacing pic.twitter.com/0VZPuzhW6U— Porsche Motorsport (@PorscheRaces) April 21, 2021
Aside from the main series, you will also be able to watch the All-Star races which run beforehand and have featured the likes of Jimmy Broadbent, Jaroslav ‘Jardier’ Honzik, and last year’s All-Stars champion Emily Jones. There will even be the odd racing driver making an appearance, like a couple of Porsche factory drivers and Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan.
So there you go, we are all very much spoilt for choice and have more than enough to keep us entertained whilst F1 is in its winter hibernation.
Which esports racing will you be tuning in to watch? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!