Ferrari has finally decided to join Formula One's esports series, meaning all ten teams will line up on the virtual grid in the 2019 championship.
For the first two years of the F1 esports championship, the Italian team had held back from being represented while its on-track rivals Mercedes swept up in 2018. The Ferrari team will be run by a new esports division of the Ferrari Driver Academy and the team hinted that its participation in sim racing would go beyond just the F1 esports championship.
"Ferrari is entering the world of esports with a complete programme that will involve several areas of the company and which will run across various projects," a press release said. "Esports is one of the fastest growing entertainment platforms, especially in the field of car racing and will attract Sim Racers and fans who are growing rapidly in number, especially among the young. This area includes open and closed-wheel racing.
"To get its participation underway in the F1 esports Series, the Maranello marque has decided to establish a special Ferrari Driver Academy esports Team section within the Ferrari Driver Academy (FDA.) The actual competition starts in July and the drivers will be announced shortly."
The 2019 F1 esports championship will kick off with the Pro Draft in July, which will determine part of each team's line-up ahead of four live events to decide the champion between September and December. A prize fund of $500,000 will be up for grabs.
"It's incredibly exciting to welcome all 10 teams to take part in the 2019 F1 New Balance Esports Series for the first time," Julian Tan, Head of Growth and F1 Esports, said. "Last year saw amazing growth for the series and with the commitment of Ferrari completing the virtual grid, we continue to elevate the series to greater heights as we further align our virtual and real world sports, creating one of the world's most innovative esports offerings whether in motorsports or beyond.
"As the ten teams all vie for a cut of the $500,000 prize fund, this is going to be the biggest season to date."