Sports car manufacturer Ferrari is getting in on esports in a big way. The company recently announced a competitive simulation racing series, Ferrari Hublot Esports Series, using the Assetto Corsa series as the preferred simulation.
The new series will have two divisions, AM Series and Pro Series, both of them initially centered on Europe, with registration opening on August 7. The AM Series will be starting in September, open to racers 18 or older, and will consist of several rounds. Meanwhile, the Pro Series will be invite-only, with Ferrari inviting 24 esports racers. The twelve fastest times in each category will compete in four races during October, and the finals will involve three races in November. The winner will go to Italy to train and be a reserve driver for Ferrari's esports team when it competes in other events.
Ferrari has also enlisted the aid of Formula One driver Charles LeClerc to serve as ambassador to the series and offer advice to the participants.
Chief Brand Diversification Officer Nicola Boari held a virtual press conference earlier today to announce the series. "There's enormous space for Ferrari to grow its own championship," Boari said. However, Boari seemed to display a troubling lack of awareness about the area in which his company is now entering. When the subject of esports racers potentially "graduating" to driving for Ferrari out on the real tracks of the world, the executive seemed to dismiss the possibility, saying, "It's fair to distinguish and keep separate the two careers."
It would seem that Ferrari, or at least their upper management, is unaware of the potential for simulation racing to lead to a physical racing career. Up until fairly recently, the GT Academy (a partnership between Nissan Europe and Sony Computer Entertainment Europe) was taking the best simulation drivers and turning them into actual racers. Nissan's split from RJN Motorsport (who managed Academy graduates' careers) in 2019 seems to have ended the program, but it did turn out notable racers, including Jann Mardenborough and Ricardo Sanchez.