Formula One F1 – Brazilian Grand Prix 2017 – Sao Paulo, Brazil – November 12, 2017 McLaren’s Fernando Alonso ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
November 23, 2017
ABU DHABI (Reuters) – Double world champion Fernando Alonso has become the first Formula One driver to launch his own eSport virtual racing team.
The 36-year-old, who drives for McLaren, presented the FA Racing G2 Logitech G team at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Thursday.
“I am a team principal, finally,” the Spaniard told reporters. “It is very exciting and it is a completely new thing to discover.”
The team is a joint venture with G2 eSports and McLaren sponsor Logitech and will participate across a variety of games, console and PC platforms, as well as all current competitions.
McLaren this week appointed a gamer as an official simulator driver, after running a “World’s Fastest Gamer” competition, and are also the first team to have a director of eSports.
The Abu Dhabi weekend will also see Formula One’s first eSport series world champion crowned after finals at the Yas Marina circuit.
Alonso’s team has already signed up one of those finalists, Turkish gamer Cem Bolukbasi.
“Every Formula One driver is a gamer at heart,” Alonso said in a statement. “Competing on the virtual stage opens a vast amount of possibilities for young drivers that wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to get into racing”.
McLaren executive director Zak Brown said in May that all Formula One teams could one day have their own virtual racing counterparts.
“I don’t see how any F1 team can ignore the power of eSports, the audience, the people it produces. So I’d like to think most F1 teams will do something in some way, shape or form,” he said at the time.
(Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Neil Robinson)