Lights Out for the e-Pink Panthers at the Gfinity Esports Arena
Tuesday, 9 October 2018 | Ravenol Marketing
The lights go out for the inaugural F1 New Balance Esports Pro Series tomorrow, and Hype Energy e-Force India drivers Marcel Kiefer (Germany), Mads Sørensen (Denmark) and Fabrizio Donoso Delgado (Chile) will get their first opportunity to show the world why they were selected to represent our F1 Technical partners, Racing Point Force India, in what is becoming the pinnacle of the online racing world.
Whilst the e-Pink Panthers livery matches that of the real-life VJM11 car that cut through its midfield rivals at Suzuka last weekend, the Formula One Esports cars are of course all identical to each other (except for drivers’ custom set ups) so we’ll get a real chance to see how talented each driver is. There will be no strategists to assist the drivers over team radio, no pit late poker, and a shocker for Mercedes fans, no team orders! Yes, the drivers will be completely on their own after lights out.
The “Grand Prix” the drivers are competing for is a prize fund of $200,000 (around £153,000), which will be allocated to the teams based on their positions in the team standings after 10 rounds set at various well known F1 circuits (see schedule below), although the actual events will all be held at the Gfinity Esports Arena in London. The action will be live-streamed on the Formula One E-sports Page and broadcast globally on selected TV networks (Sky Sports in the UK – tomorrow’s action starts at 19:00).
Just as in Formula One, the e-sports rounds will consist of a Free Practice, Qualifying and Race, though these are much shorter than the real-life events, allowing a couple of rounds to be held on each competition day. At the end of the three events, we will see the first Formula 1 Esports Champion being crowned on the same weekend as the Formula One World Champion takes the title in Abu Dhabi. Here’s hoping it’s one of our guys in pink!
So to round off our preview as usual, we took a look at Force India’s Drivers’ Eye interviews to get to know our three e-sports racing drivers a little better:
Marcel Kiefer: The German driver qualified for the 2017 F1 Esports Series Semi Final by setting the third fastest time on the Xbox Time Trial Qualifier. Unfortunately he got caught up in an incident in the first of three semi-final races, but impressed the team with his come back and was the highest scoring driver after those that made the Grand Final.
“I began racing online one or two months after last year’s semi-finals. I actually had no actual competitive online experience before driving against the 40 best in the world on the big stage,” Marcel admitted.
“I really enjoy the wet, the only problem I have so far is my experience in those conditions. Most of the times the weather is dry and with my [lack of] experience I had to make sure to become as effective as possible compared to my competitors with far more experience. And as it‘s more dry, my major focus was to get quick in the dry. My wet pace is getting better and better, so I like both.”
Mads Sørensen: The Danish driver got into F1 sim-racing after winning a community league in 2016, then qualified for the 2017 F1 Esports Series Semi-Final by setting the fourth fastest time on the PS4 Time Trial Qualifier. He finished 4th in his group - good enough to qualify for the Grand Final, where he set the fastest lap during the Abu Dhabi race.
“The racing it is world class racing against the best in the world which is the reason I am enjoying this,” Mads told them. “Brendon Leigh is the man to beat and as the reigning champion all eyes will be on him but hopefully I will be up there with him, fighting for the win!
“My pure determination to perform at my best will be a key factor. I am focusing on improving in every area; especially my fitness is another level compared to last year - it makes me able to perform at my best over a longer period of time.”
Fabrizio Donoso Delgado: The young Chilean driver really stood out to the team during last year’s F1 Esports final in Abu Dhabi. Unsurprisingly, he was their pick in the inaugural F1 Esports Series Pro Draft.
“When I have to prepare for events like last year F1 Esports or even this year’s Pro Draft, I train nearly 5 hours per day,” Fabrizio explained. “I have already all in my mind of how the race has to be played out, by myself. I like to always have something to drink before the race and I always enter in my simulator from the left side.
“I didn’t have the best Pro Draft in terms of performance and the results were by far not showing what I can do. I knew one team would see past the Draft and give me the chance to fight for this championship.”
So we wish Marcel, Mads and Fabrizio the best of luck tomorrow and look forward to seeing how they get on in the inaugural Formula One Esports Pro Series. Here’s hoping for a pink lock-out!
10th of October, Gfinity Esports Arena, London
31st of October, Gfinity Esports Arena, London
16/17th of November, Gfinity Esports Arena, London