Formula 1?, the pinnacle of motorsport, has revealed the names of the online racers who have secured places to race professionally in the next stage of the F1 Esports Series 2018, the Pro Series Championship.

In what is a unique opportunity for F1 and gaming fans, the drivers were selected by representatives from the nine F1 teams participating on Monday July 9th in London at the inaugural Pro Draft. Amongst them Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, as well as F1 Chairman and CEO, Chase Carey and Managing Director of Commercial Operations, Sean Bratches were also in attendance to watch the drama unfold.

With a seriously talented roster of drivers to choose from, two teams, Renault Sport Team Vitality and Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 eSports Team, selected all their drivers from the draft. Representatives from Haas F1 Esports Team, Red Bull Racing, Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport, Hype Energy eForce India F1 Esports Team, Williams Esports, McLaren Shadow and Toro Rosso Esports Team were also impressed by the ability of the qualifiers, selecting at least one of the top-performing drivers to join their teams following a series of rigorous assessments and interviews at the Pro Draft.

Pending confirmation of final contracts, the drivers selected for each team are:

Tino NaukkarinenFinlandWilliams Esports
Fabrizio Donoso DelgadoChileHype Energy eForce India F1 Esports Team
Martin StefankoCzech RepublicHaas F1 Esports Team
Daniel BereznayHungaryMercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport
Sven ZurnerGermanyRenault Sport Team Vitality
Salih SaltuncUnited KingdomAlfa Romeo Sauber F1 eSports Team
Cem BolukbasiTurkeyToro Rosso Esports Team
Olli PahkalaFinlandMcLaren Shadow
Joni TormalaFinlandRed Bull Racing
Graham CarrollUnited KingdomRed Bull Racing
Patrick HolzmannGermanyToro Rosso Esports Team
Allert van der WalNetherlandsAlfa Romeo Sauber F1 eSports Team
Kimmy LarssonSwedenRenault Sport Team Vitality
Michal SmidlCzech RepublicHaas F1 Esports Team
James DohertyUnited KingdomRenault Sport Team Vitality
Sonuc SaltuncUnited KingdomAlfa Romeo Sauber F1 eSports Team

Ahead of Monday’s live event, the initial 40 Pro Draft Qualifiers were put through their paces during a three-day assessment at Silverstone, with a series of challenges and interviews testing everything from fitness and stamina to reaction times and real-world driving. With impressive scores across the board, the F1 teams then selected a total of 16 drivers from nine countries to move forward with them to the Pro Series Championship. The two-hour event reached over 850,000 people around the world via live streaming.

Cem Bolukbasi, 20, selected for the Toro Rosso Esports team said:

“Taking part in the F1 Esports Series has been a phenomenal experience so far. The past week was mentally and physically challenging but being picked by an official F1 team and being part of the Red Bull Family is an incredible feeling. The next stage is sure to be amazing and we’re already getting prepared. In fact, motivation levels couldn’t be higher.”

Having secured their places, the drivers will represent their real-world teams later in the season as they race in the three live events that will determine the 2018 F1 Esports Series Teams and Drivers World Champions. There will be a prize fund of $200,000 allocated to the teams based on their positions in the team standings.

The F1 Esports Series is operated in partnership with Codemasters, the developer and publisher of the official Formula 1 video game franchise and Gfinity, one of the world’s leading esports companies.

Julian Tan, Head of Digital Growth & F1 Esports at Formula 1 said:

“Today’s announcement is a hugely significant one for Esports and F1. To be selected by professional F1 teams to compete globally is an outstanding achievement, and the creation of these new teams is a statement of intent for our fans and their involvement in the next chapter of the F1 Esports Series. Now, the competition really gathers pace as we head towards the Pro Series Championship.”

Max Verstappen, F1 Driver Red Bull Racing said:

“I’ve recently got back into gaming and I know some of these guys and know how talented they are. It’s very exciting and you can see lots of sports embracing Esports - so it’s great that F1 are doing it as well.”

Jonathan Bunney, VP Publishing at Codemasters said:

“We are delighted that our most talented players are being signed by the real F1 teams. It is an incredible opportunity for them. The level of skill and dedication we have seen throughout the qualification process and during the assessments has been staggering, and we are excited to see our drivers go head-to-head in the F1 Esports Pro Series.”

Mark Brittain, Chief Commercial Officer at Gfinity said:

“On behalf of Gfinity, we’d like to congratulate every driver who was drafted this evening. They have navigated both the online qualifiers and the Silverstone Pro Draft assessments, and we look forward to seeing them on the grid for the finals of the Pro Series Championship.”

For more information on the F1 Esports Series visit www.f1esports.com.

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