Open to anyone with a console, the various racing championships have enjoyed unprecedented entry numbers. Last year’s Ferrari Esports series alone saw 34,000 drivers take part in the initial Qualifier Races. Combine that with six Championships from F1 to Le Mans, and you have a sport that can no longer be considered a novelty in any capacity.
Welcome to the world of the Scuderia Ferrari Velas Esports Team
One of the advantages Esports has over its ‘real world’ counterparts is the ability to refine and adapt at a blistering pace and this year’s season has already seen significant changes and improvements to the last. For Ferrari, 2022 marks a new era, as the Ferrari Driver Academy (FDA) Esports Team becomes the Scuderia Ferrari Velas Esports Team, with the arrival of new title partner, Velas, a Swiss company focused on the creation and integration of technological products and services, led by a diverse team of engineers, cryptographers, researchers, and mathematicians. In other words, a perfect fit.
The existing team of seasoned racing drivers – Italian David Tonizza and Englishman Brendon Leigh – are joined by Kamil Pawlowski from Poland, who won last year’s Ferrari Esports Series, finishing in the top three in every race behind the wheel of his 488 Challenge Evo.
Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz present Kamil Pawlowski with his Ferrari Esports Series champion's trophy
Not only did that win guarantee a place on the Ferrari team for the 24-year-old, it saw him being welcomed to Italy by Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, who presented his Ferrari Esports Series champion's trophy, a true sign of the commitment to Esports being made by the Scuderia.
For the drivers, entering the Scuderia Ferrari Velas Esports Team marks the pinnacle of years of application and hard work. David Tonizza is a graduate of the Jean Alesi Esports Academy and is the F1 Esports 2019 World Champion and GTWC Esports Endurance Series 2021 Champion. Brendon Leigh’s accolades include F1 Esports World Champion for both 2017 and 2018.
Behind the scenes of the Virtual Le Mans series in January this year
Racing itself is designed to be as close to the real thing as possible. For the final leg of the Virtual Le Mans Series held in January this year for example, the FDA Esports Team faced everything the ‘real world’ would throw at them, and knowledge of the variations of weather between daytime, night, dawn and sunset became essential to establish which tyres to use, and for how long. Racing took place under the glare of a four-camera strong television studio, with commentators and guests (including Charles Leclerc) following progress within a thirty square meter area that housed a console for engineer, coach and project manager plus two simulators for the drivers and even a sofa for rest periods.
David Tonizza is the F1 Esports 2019 World Champion
Elsewhere, the Mobileye GT World Challenge Esports Championships began this month and David Tonizza’s season is underway with a second place at the Misano circuit. For newcomer Kamil Pawlowski things – just as in ‘real life’ racing - were more complicated, as an early collision and a late penalty saw him drop to 17th place. Nevertheless, his performance demonstrated why he is the reigning Ferrari Esports Series champion, and the points are bound to come soon.