UK-based gaming operator Gfinity has confirmed it will launch a third Formula One esports series this month as part of an extension to its partnership with the global motorsports giant.
Sportswear manufacturer New Balance remains the title sponsor for the new F1 Pro Series season, which gets underway next Monday (8th April) and is doubling its prize money to US$500,000.
The series will use the same format as it did during last year’s season – including qualifying and a draft series before the main event – though each section has been expanded.
Gfinity, which retains responsibility for the tournament’s delivery and distribution of media rights, last season registered a record audience of 5.5 million viewers across its linear and digital distribution networks .
Garry Cook, the operator’s executive chairman, said last November that Gfinity was holding discussions with Formula One around a multi-year extension to the series.
Though it is not clear whether this is still a viable option, an expanded 2019 season means that the series’ official Formula One teams and their gamers will compete in four live events – compared to three events last year – between September and December.
Cook, who was previously the chief executive for English soccer champions Manchester City, said that the first two instalments of the F1 New Balance Esports Series “captured the imagination of the global gaming community”.
Cook continued: “Esports fans want the back stories, the drivers' journeys to greatness, the emotion of being chosen to represent an F1 team. And they want to experience daring manoeuvres on the track.
“F1 New Balance Esports delivers this. That is why a new and younger audience is embracing the F1 story. Series three is going to be bigger, bolder and more entertaining than ever.”
All entrants can compete in F1 2018, the official game of the FIA Formula One Championship, via PlayStation4 as well as Xbox One devices, including the Xbox One X and PC.
Cook added: "Once more this highlights Gfinity's ability to leverage its esports expertise and market leading technology to support prestigious organisations to design, develop and deliver long term compelling global esports solutions."