FORMULA ONE will crown its first video games world champion at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after announcing the launch of an eSports series to run from September to November.
The series will be in three stages, starting with qualification events through September to determine the 40 quickest virtual drivers and run on PlayStation4, Xbox One and Windows PC platforms.
Live semi-finals will be held at London’s Gfinity Arena on October 10-11, with the top 20 going on to the three-race finals at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina circuit on November 24-25.
The first eSports Series world champion will automatically qualify for the following year’s semi-finals.
Formula One managing director Sean Bratches said in a statement that the new series represented “an amazing opportunity for our business: strategically and in the way we engage fans”.
US-based Liberty Media, who took over Formula One in January, have targeted gaming as a growth area to drive revenues and connect with younger audiences.
Some of Formula One’s participants are already embracing the world of eSports, with McLaren executive director Zak Brown saying all teams could eventually have their own virtual counterpart.
The all-electric Formula E series has already staged a virtual race between all of its drivers and gamers. The winner in Las Vegas last January was Dutch virtual racer Bono Huis, who collected a £155,000 jackpot.