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Motorsport sponsorship expert Nigel Geach thinks teams will be looking at how to involve top stars in the F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix Series.
F1 and Liberty Media have been forced to take action over the past two months with the coronavirus pandemic throwing the 2020 season into chaos.
The likes of Lando Norris, Charles Leclerc and Alex Albon have taken part in the F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix series, the latest round of which will be staged on Sunday night.
Geach, who is the Senior Vice President of Global Motorsports at Nielsen Sports and has more than 30 years of experience in F1, is full of praise for Chase Carey and co.
“It’s really helpful for everybody because it keeps Formula 1 – the sport and the people – in the minds of everybody,” Geach told Express Sport.
“I think it’s been a great success. Hats off to Liberty Media and Formula 1 because they really have created something very quickly out of adversity. I think one of the key things with this is that it throws up some interesting scenarios with regard to Formula 1 because it’s brought in a newer, younger audience, which must be good for everybody. And that’s always been the concern of Formula 1, that it always has a very traditional, stable audience. I think the advent of esports brings in the magic 18-24s, which everybody wants to have involved.
“The profiles of some of the younger drivers have been advanced greatly. While we’ve talked about the Max Verstappen’s and the Lewis Hamiltons and Sebastian Vettels, the youngsters like Leclerc and Lando have come to the fore again. It’s refreshing, it’s a new dynamic and it creates a lot of opportunities. Whilst we all want to get back racing properly, this has certainly started an off-centre and changing environment.”
Top stars including Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel are yet to get involved in the F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix series.
“There are always discussions between sponsors and teams,” Geach said. “Broadly teams will be discussing with teams what the best situation is and how to help each other. It’s quite a nice addition for a sponsor at the moment. The doom and despondency after Australia suddenly has taken on a new dimension. Sponsors are asking what their exposure is, how it’s relating to them. The games show their names around the track. So it brings a little bit of a sweetener to an otherwise horrible situation.
“There will be discussions going on. Gaming, esports and simulator racing are not only a young person’s game. The teams which have the young drivers will be thinking: ‘how can we maximise on it?’. So there will be discussions between sponsors and especially with the major teams like Ferrari and McLaren and Mercedes and Red Bull. There’ll be discussions about how to best make use of their drivers and their cars and their youngsters.”