Formula One teams will be granted official entries into the series' second esports championship season in 2018, which includes an NFL-style draft and a $200,000 prize fund for the winners.
Following the hugely successful inaugural esports championship in 2017, the format has been significantly expanded for 2018. F1's announcement on Wednesday confirmed every team except Ferrari has signed up to take part and offer positions to esports drivers later in the season.
The new season will begin on April 13 with the first stage of the championship, the qualifiers. This will see players competing on the F1 2017 game on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC in four qualifying events.
It will not be a simple time trial: the first event will see them take control of Valtteri Bottas' Mercedes in Shanghai hunting down a podium position with five laps remaining on a wet, but drying, track. The fastest ten players on each platform will then race off in a live-streamed event final, where the top three from each will qualify for the newly-created Pro Draft, set to take place in July.
Each team must select at least one of its drivers from the Pro Draft. At the end of stage one, a further 40 drivers will be eligible for selection by the respective esports teams. The second stage, a 'Pro-series' which launches in September, will see the selected drivers race in three live events that will determine a drivers' champion and, for the first time, an esport series team champion.
Renault's F1 team already launched an esports outfit earlier this year. Shortly after the details of season two were confirmed Force India announced the formation of its own team, which is likely to be followed by announcements from the other teams taking part.
The Hype Energy eForce India team is here!— Sahara Force India (@ForceIndiaF1) April 4, 2018
We are delighted to unveil the brand new @hypeenergy eForce India team to coincide with the launch of the official F1 2018 esports championship.
Read the full story: https://t.co/4SnzWoUwCp pic.twitter.com/GCx8paP1G6
Last year British racer Brendon Leigh won a tense finale held in conjunction with the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. One segment of the Abu Dhabi paddock was set aside for the esports competitors. Each event was live streamed by F1 on YouTube.
Esports is enjoying a growing presence in Formula One. Last year McLaren held a competition, called the World's Fastest Gamer, to find itself a simulator driver for the 2018 season. The winner was Rudy van Buren, who will assist the team's F1 development throughout the season and competed at the Race of Champions at the start of the year. Fernando Alonso has also launched his own team, FA Racing.