Esports-F1's fourth virtual championship to offer record prize money

LONDON, Aug 13 (Reuters) - The fourth official Formula One Esports Series starting this month will have a record prize fund of $750,000, the sport announced on Thursday.

Last year’s prize fund was $500,000, itself more than double what was on offer in 2018.

Drivers representing the 10 real F1 teams will compete remotely from homes and factories this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Formula One said a record 237,000 participants had attempted to qualify, compared to 109,000 in 2019, with that number whittled down to 45 entering this month’s Pro Draft.

Each team must then add at least one draft qualifier to their three-person roster.

China will have two draft qualifiers for the first time with Tang Tianyu and Yuan Yifan winning through from the inaugural season of the F1 Esports Series China.

The 12-round Pro Series will be held as four events from October to December, with races lasting longer than previously and using the official F1 2020 Codemasters video game.

The races will be shown on F1’s social channels and selected broadcasters.

Italian gamer David Tonizza, representing Ferrari’s driver academy, is the defending champion.

“F1 Esports has had a huge year with the massive success of the virtual grand prix series that we ran through lockdown,” said Julian Tan, F1’s head of esports.

“This has set us up well for the launch of the 2020 F1 Esports Series which will be our biggest and most innovative season yet.” (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)