Alpine's academy approach - 2023 lineup for F1 Esports Series confirmed
The synergy between Formula One and the F1 Esports Series is the biggest no-brainer when it comes to a sport and esports. F1 (the game) is based on the sport itself, with the teams' liveries and drivers among the game's content.
Alpine, formerly known as Renault, have a rich history in Formula One. The team first appeared on the grid in 1977, and after a few hiatus’ throughout the years, and the odd name change, the team is here to stay as ‘Alpine’, and it’s the same on their esports side.
The team competes in the F1 Esports Series, Le Mans Virtual, and a variety of other sim and endurance racing competitions. We spoke with a few members of the team, and here’s how their journey will progress in 2023 and beyond.
Originally launched in 2017, the following year of competition in the F1 Esports Series saw the grid all come together and set up esports teams, “Liberty Media in F1 wanted to have the Netflix series as well as esports” explains Guillaume Vergnas, Head of Esports, Gaming & Web3 at Alpine.
“We made a partnership with Team Vitality… on Rocket League, we managed to be world champion” that was back at RLCS Season 7, but the strategy has changed since then “from that, what we decided to do is to create our own team, mainly based on team racing”.
The team started off strong, achieving a fourth-place finish in 2019, alongside a bronze medal in 2020, but struggled in the most recent F1 Esports Series “Last year we didn't really have a good start, but I think you could see that we improved throughout every event” says Alpine Esports Driver Patrik Sipos.
The academy approach
“We were the youngest three [drivers] on the grid” explains Patrik, which expands to the approach that Alpine is taking in their sim racing efforts. Guillaume expands “We want to bring new drivers into the competition”.
This relates to their brand-new lineup heading into 2023, with Patrik returning alongside Luke Smith, 2022 F1 Esports Exhibition runner-up, and the addition of Rubén Pedreño, former Race Clutch academy driver, who will work alongside the team in order to gain his F1 Esports Pro License through the Challenger Series.
When asked how Alpine is different from the other teams on the grid, Guillaume says “For us it feels like a big family… we want to build something, create something new, and bring something new for either the drivers or the fans.”
The next step
There have been talks throughout the year of the F1 Esports Series returning to LAN, having been purely online since the COVID-19 Pandemic, and drivers are excited about it “I've never been in a LAN event before, but it looks fun and I think LAN event gives a special environment for everybody” says Patrik.
What’s next for the team though? With a young lineup following a 9th-place finish in the championship, you’d expect a tame expectation of improving, although Patrik “The goal is always to win and I think we are looking really good”.
Although, there’s still a long way to go. The F1 Esports Series previously ran from September to December, crammed into that short period following F1 22’s release in July. That approach though is fine with Patrik “The format is perfect because it is tiring… if we take it longer, we are already missing that summer experience”.
We’ll have a while before seeing the team in the F1 Esports Series, but it's safe to say it's a roster with promise.