The world's fastest Formula 1 esports drivers will descend on the Gfinity Arena in London on Tuesday October 10th.
There they will take part in a qualifier race for the inaugural Formula 1 Esports Series World Final in Abu Dhabi. And eight of the players are from the UK (see the bottom of this article for the full list of those taking part).
The 2017 F1 Esport Series is the first year of an annual competition, coinciding with the release of the F1 2017 video game, which arrived on PS4, Xbox One and PC on August 25th. The F1 esports series is open to players on all three platforms.
The 40 semi-finalists reached the London event through a series of qualifying rounds which were held over the past few weeks. 15 of them earned a place in the final, tackling a virtual race around Monza between September 4th and 11th, while others reached the final by racing on Suzuka between September 18th and 26th.
There was some controversy during one of the qualifier races, when a player was disqualified in an unusual manner. It's thought he started on one type of dry tyre and switched to a wet tyre. If the game was not coded in a way which is faithful to the F1 rules, it will have been expecting him to put another type of dry tyre on before the final lap, which is probably why he was disqualified at that point.
While this reasoning wasn't confirmed by the developers, the winner of that race was later reinstated. News site F1 Fanatic captured the moment:
— F1 Fanatic (@f1fanatic_co_uk) 14 September 2017
Ten of the 30 competitors qualified online on PS4, ten on Xbox One and ten on PC.
Nine drivers reached the semi-finals from the F1 2017 Affiliated leagues, held using all platforms from September 8th to 28th. This was an invitation-only series, made up of the best league racers from AOR, FIT, Racestarsnl and Team Redline.
"The number of participants exceeded our initial predictions, which confirms how much interest there is in Formula 1 within esports."
Frank Arthofer, Formula 1
The 40th semi-finalist is a wildcard entry, selected by a vote from an independent panel, including former F1 driver David Coulthard, based on ability, skill and knowledge of esports.
A total of 63,827 drivers took part in the qualifying stages, completing 976,870 laps. Over 195,000 race times were posted on the official leaderboards over at f1esports.com.
The F1 esports semi-final, which will be shown live on the official F1 Twitch and Facebook accounts and streamed on f1esports.com, will consist of four heats and will use the Silverstone and Interlagos circuits.
The first five drivers of each heat will progress to the Finals, which will take place at the Yas Marina as part of the 2017 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on November 24th and 25th.
At the end of a three-race event, the first Formula 1 Esports World Champion will be crowned on the same weekend as the final 2017 Formula 1 Grand Prix.
The winner will become the Formula 1 Esports Champion Expert for 2018 and automatically qualify for the semi-finals of next year's Esports Series. The first winner will also attend one of the 2018 Grand Prix, as well as becoming a character in the F1 2018 game.
Frank Arthofer, Director of Digital and New Business at Formula 1, said: "We are very pleased to see how successful this first edition of the F1 Esports Series has been. The number of participants exceeded our initial predictions, which confirms how much interest there is in Formula 1 within esports, a sector that is undergoing phenomenal growth."
The 40 semi-finalists come from 16 different countries: UK is the most represented with 8 drivers. The youngest driver is 16 years, the oldest 33.
Eight of the 40 players are from the UK.
The players are as follows:
The F1 Esports Series is a partnership between Formula 1, Codemasters and Gfinity. It was first announced back in August.
It's separate to McLaren's own World's Fastest Gamer esports tournament, the winner of which receives a contract with McLaren to be a simulation driver.