Sixteen Drivers Selected for F1 Teams at inaugural Pro Draft
July 10, 2018
The Gfinity Arena in West London was the setting for the inaugural F1 Esports Series Pro Draft, where a select few elite esports drivers assembled in the hope of being selected for one of the F1 teams.
Star power was not lacking, with Jack Nicholls, Johnny Herbert, Rosanna Tennant, Matt Gallagher and Formula 1’s Managing Director of Commercial Operations Sean Bratches all on hand to help Tom Deacon present the night’s activities, with Formula 1 racers Pierre Gasly and Max Verstappen also in attendance, announcing the drivers for their respective teams.
After four intense Qualifying Events spanning four Formula One Grands Prix, across three different platforms on the official F1 game (F1 2017) developed by Codemasters, just 40 drivers had the opportunity to attend the Pro Draft, and after being put through their paces over the British Grand Prix weekend, the teams made their selections. In all, 16 drivers were selected to progress…
After securing first spot in the Draw Order, Williams Esports were first to choose, announcing Finland’s Tino Naukkarinen as the first Pro Draft racer to progress to Autumn’s Pro Series.
There was little time to reflect though, as second pick Hype Energy eForce India were next up. Their early position in the queue enabled them to enlist the services of 2017 F1 Esports runner-up Fabrizio Donoso Delgado, with the Chilean racer in tears after the emotion and the magnitude of the event dawned on him backstage.
Haas F1 Team were third to choose, vying for Martin Stefanko of the Czech Republic. They later picked a second driver, and it became an all Czech line up with the addition of Michal Smidl.
Reigning F1 World Champions Mercedes AMG Motorsport were fourth in line, and their Esports hopes rest with the driving skills of Hungary’s Daniel Bereznay.
The first of two teams to pick a total of three drivers, Renault Sport Team Vitality announced Germany’s Sven Zurner, who famously battled with Brendon Leigh on the final lap of the race in Abu Dhabi in 2017. The third-place man from last year was then joined by Sweden’s Kimmy Larsson, and James Doherty of the UK, after Renault picked the maximum three racers for their squad.
Sauber eSports followed suit and also opted for a trio of racers, first choosing Salih Saltunc, before Allert Van der wal joined the team, and finally, Salih’s younger brother Sonuc. The British pair embraced in an emotional interview backstage, as the popular siblings embark on the next stage of their young Esports careers.
Toro Rosso’s seventh-place pick was of no disadvantage, with the team picking the exact two drivers they hoped for. Pierre Gasly was on site to hand over the all-important reveal card, and it announced that the team had chosen the highly-rated Cem Bolukbasi, and Patrick Holzmann.
McLaren’s newly-unveiled Shadow Esports team had the penultimate pick, and they opted for the eccentric joker in the pack, Olli Pakhala, leaning on his vast amounts of experience as one of the more senior members of the line-up.
Red Bull Racing were last to pick, but much like sister team Toro Rosso, they were happy with their two additions, with Joni Tormala and later Graham Carroll becoming their latest recruits.
And with that, the 16 drivers were confirmed for the Pro Series; the final stage in the 2018 F1 Esports Championship. Though 24 drivers will now leave the competition, they should be proud of the moments they have experienced, and they progress they have made, including the week of driver assessments at Silverstone.
F1 Esports 2018 will resume in the autumn, when the official esports drivers from the nine F1 Esports teams will compete once again to prove their might on the virtual racetracks
If you missed the inaugural F1 Esports Series Pro Draft action, you can watch it all back via the live stream section of the website.