Formula One increases prize money, adds races for esports Series

Formula One has more than doubled the prize money for this year's esports world championship and will include more races and live events on the calendar.

Under a different title sponsor in New Balance, the total prize pot will be £500,000 when the esports Series begins on April 8, a big increase on the £200,000 on offer in 2018.

Last year's competition was watched by 5.5 million viewers but organisers say the 2019 series will be "the biggest and most ambitious season yet".

The Pro Draft, from which teams must select at least one of their drivers, will take place in July with four live events -- one more than last year -- between September and December to decide the champion and winning team.

Britain's Brendon Leigh has won back-to-back titles and helped Mercedes replicate their world championship success on the real life track in 2018.

Nine of the 10 teams on the 2019 grid -- all but Ferrari -- were competing for the prize money in 2018 but Formula One is yet to give details for the breakdown of the 2019 pot.

"We are committed to exponential growth in the world of esports, and as a result the 2019 season is going to be even bigger and better," said Formula One's managing director Sean Bratches.

"Having more than doubled the prize fund, we plan to attract even more talent to the series and to continue the upward trajectory we are on."

The esports championship will also follow Formula One's lead in awarding an extra point for the fastest race lap from this season, and there will be greater Chinese involvement, with a Chinese championship to launch later this year.

"The China Championship will give a select number of the fastest and most skilled Chinese gamers automatic entry into the prestigious Pro Draft in 2020," Formula One said.

Information from Reuters contributed to this report