The power. The speed. And the finesse. It takes a bold, confident, courageous and steady hand to rule the world of Formula 1 and that’s the case whether you are Lewis Hamilton or Jarmo Opmeer.
Hamilton is the Mercedes driver who has won a record-tying seven world driving championships in Formula 1, including the past four and six of the last seven titles. He’s currently leading the championship chase again this year. The British driver is always going to be a favorite in Formula 1 bets, no matter which track the circuit might be racing in any given week.
Perhaps the average F1 fan isn’t as familiar with the work behind the wheel of Opmeer. The 21-year-old from the Netherlands, an admitted Hamilton supporter, is also one to watch in the F1 drivers’ chase this season. Opmeer, who only began virtual racing in 2018, was the 2020 series champion in the Formula 1 Esports Series.
Driving for Alfa Romeo, Opmeer won in Bahrain, Shanghai, Canada and Mexico City during the 12-race circuit. Consistency was a key to his overall success. Opmeer also recorded four other podium finishes and ended up among the points in two other races.
Red Bull won the 2020 Formula 1 Esports Series constructors’ championship.
Into Its Fourth Season
The Formula1 Esports Series will soon begin its fourth season of competition. Backed by the actual Formula 1 race teams – Alfa Romeo, Alphatauri, Alpine, Aston Martin, FDA Hublot, Haas, McLaren, Mercedes, Racing Point, Red Bull, Renault and Williams – the official F1 Esports Teams compete over a multi-round championship to determine the F1 Esports Series Constructors’ and Drivers’ World Champions.
For the 2021 season, races have been extended in length, from 25 percent to 35 percent of a comparable Formula 1 race. There will be double the amount of live shows broadcast over the F1 Esports Series YouTube channel, plus the introduction of new full qualifying shows. There will be full length qualifying, with the majority of qualifying live streamed.
The 2021 race season will also feature the introduction of new circuits in the Pro Series such as Circuit Park Zandvoort and the Hanoi Street Circuit.
A Long Qualifying Process
You think it’s tough earning one of the coveted seats piloting an F1 machine? Well, take a look at the journey required to earn a spot driving on the F1 Esports circuit. The drivers on the 2020 circuit represented more than a dozen countries and ranged in age from 18 to 27.
The F1 Esports Series Presented by Aramco is open to gamers around the world regardless of skill-level or experience. In order to attempt to qualify, players must contest races via a PC, Xbox One or PlayStation 4. There are a number of different ways to qualify throughout the year. Weekly in-game events were held from September 2020 through April 2021 and were open to everyone. Players only needed to register on the F1 Esports Series website in order to participate. The winners of each event and other select drivers then progressed to the invitation-only DHL time trial.
Currently 58 hopefuls as young as 16 years of age are competing in the next step, the F1 Esports Series Challengers. It is a 10-round online championship that started in December of 2020 for the fastest qualifiers from the F1 Esports Series qualification events and is designed to locate the next F1 Esports Series talent. Challengers is contested on PS4, Xbox One and PC, with the top six drivers per platform qualifying for a chance to sign for an official F1 Esports Team and take part in the 2021 Pro Championship.
The fastest drivers from the various qualification routes enter the Pro Draft where they get a chance to be picked by an official F1 team for the Pro Series season. Once the teams are finalized, they compete for the official F1 Esports teams over a multi-round championship to determine the F1 Esports Series Constructors’ and Drivers’ World Champions.
In some cases, race teams are finding the sim racing skills are actually transferrable to real racing. James Baldwin, billed as the world’s fastest gamer, races for McLaren in the F1 Esports Series. He also drove a real McLaren race car for Jenson Team Rocket RJN during the 2020 British GT Championship, winning his debut race and finishing fourth in the points race.