Looking ahead is part of the Ferrari DNA. So it was natural for Formula 1 most successful manufacturer to take up the challenge of the new F1 “virtual” championship and to do so in style. Ferrari entry into Esports aims to take the passion for Ferrari to the younger generation of gamers by speaking their language. It is an incredible opportunity. With the new Ferrari Driver Academy (FDA) Esports team, young sim racers can now live out their dream – by becoming an official Ferrari factory driver.
The FDA Hublot Esports team was formed in 2019, to race in the official F1 Esports Pro Series. This is a professional esports programme promoted by Formula 1. Top F1 teams field their own esports operations, complete with dedicated drivers, and all race on the official Formula 1 video game. After announcing its entry, the Ferrari Driver Academy later revealed its drivers: David Tonizza and Amos Laurito. Being part of the Ferrari Driver Academy means the sim racers enjoy the same development opportunities as drivers of the real cars. They are pro drivers, they drive and train just like those in the real cars.
The dynamic between the real-life racers and Esports drivers is particularly interesting. The sim racers receive a lot of tips on how to set up the car from the real-life drivers. The experiences, the sensations they’ve had on circuits can help the virtual guys adopt a different mindset. The Esport drivers’ top-level sim skills can also help real racers get more from their time in the simulator.
And the races are “virtually” identical to the ones in real life, with drivers battling on the same tracks, planning pit stops, paying attention to the tires wear, and even getting penalized. Indeed, Tonizza who was leading the championship entering the penultimate race, looked as he might miss out the title on account of a penalty. In Austin Tonizza was given a three-second time penalty for exceeding track limits and this meant that he was demoted from P3 to P6. His Red Bull rival, Frederick Rasmussen, went into the final race as provisional championship leader.
Tonizza needed to bring his ‘A Game’ to Interlagos, home of the Brazilian Gran Prix, and he did not disappoint. He took an amazing pole position, but his race start was not perfect and Alfa Romeo’s Bereznay was able to overtake him. Tonizza knew that he had to concentrate only on Rasmussen. Towards the end of the race, he was aware that the championship lead had to be managed correctly, for this reason he was fairly cautious on the wheel and avoided risky maneuvers. Bereznay crossed the line first, but that didn’t matter to Tonizza as he became the new F1 Esport Series world champion.
This was great achievement for the rookie driver on his first series’ appearance racing for the FDA Hublot Esports Team. The 17-year-old Italian, dubbed “Tonzilla” has achieved something extraordinary in the motorsport world. Not even the current world champion, Lewis Hamilton could match Tonizza, in fact Lewis Hamilton won his first championship in his second year of Formula 1.
David Tonizza is really a great champion: “It was not easy being in front from the very first race of the season and suddenly you find yourself behind in the standings with one race to go. I have to admit I had to be cold and emotionless. Fortunately, I was able to regain my composure which I was missing. I want to thank everyone, especially, FDA Hublot Esports Team for their amazing work and the success we shared this year. I am very happy”. After this great achievement, the program is ready for the 2020 challenges and to build up a worldwide Ferrari competition featuring amazing tracks, who will be taking place from the next spring with an online open qualification.