For this year’s Formula 1 Esports Pro Draft, 45 drivers earned their place to be potentially chosen to join one of the teams and a lucky 12 were chosen to complete the 2020 grid.
Some weren’t so fortunate. F1 Esports China Championship winner Tang Tianyu and the highest placed available driver from the Xbox One Challenger Series, Nathan Moore, didn’t get a place in any team.
That’s despite both of them representing McLaren in the Pro Exhibition races held earlier on in the year.
Not every F1 Esports driver makes their way through the Pro Draft, with most joining teams in direct deals similar to how drivers join teams in real-world motorsport.
Those that come in via the Pro Draft have to first perform in any of the various supplementary competitions to earn one of the coveted 45 spots in the selection event.
This year’s Pro Draft picks have yet to prove themselves in the 2020 Pro Series, but there was a lot of pedigree in last year’s selection.
It’s worth looking at how they fared to get a sense of the expectations resting on those picked in the 2020 Pro Draft and just settling into their teams.
By far the biggest success story from the 2019 Pro Draft was David Tonizza who joined Ferrari and went on to become the 2019 F1 Esports champion.
With three race wins and seven podium finishes in the 12 race championship, he understandably has been kept by the team to try to defend his title.
Another success story, although more so outside of the Pro Series, is Racing Point’s Lucas Blakeley pictured below).
The Scot took part in four races in the 2019 Pro Series with a best result of second at Suzuka providing 18 of his 20 championship points.
In the Pro Exhibition races, which took place this year during the absence of real-world racing, Blakely was the unofficial champion after winning at Monaco and then following that up with two consecutive second place finishes before the series came to an end.
Another driver who had a single standout result in the 2019 Pro Series was Nicolas Longuet who was selected to join Red Bull last year.
With each team having three drivers but only able to field two per race, Longuet drew the short straw and only took part in one Pro Series race.
His break came at Monza where he finished second but, despite Longuet claiming the runner up spot on his debut, Frederik Rasmussen and Joni Tormala contested the rest of the races for Red Bull.
Longuet has since left the team and joined Renault, outside of the Pro Draft, for the 2020 championship.
Simon Weigang was dropped by Renault after the 2019 Pro Series so put into the 2020 Pro Draft and was the first driver to be selected, joining Haas for 2020.
He was present in four races for Renault last year and scored points in three of them with a best result of seventh at Interlagos.
His other ventures into the points came at Silverstone, where he was eighth, and a 10th place finish in Suzuka.
Those results meant he was the lowest scoring driver at Renault, although he took part in fewer races than his two team-mates.
Floris was lucky enough to take part in every race last year for Haas, but only twice did he score points with ninth place in Bahrain and seventh in China.
His record in the Pro Exhibition series wasn’t much better as he only finished in the top half once, but it was a podium place in the first stand-in event which was run around Albert Park.
Last year Manuel Biancolilla joined Toro Rosso but only took part in three races and contributed a single point to the team constructors’ championship with a 10th at Hockenheim.
He was dropped after the Pro Series finished and placed into this year’s Pro Draft but was picked up by the team again so will race with it in 2020 under the AlphaTauri name.
Another Pro Draft pick from last year who returned to the Pro Draft for 2020 was Isaac Price. He represented Williams in 2019 but didn’t earn a seat for the 2020 Pro Series.
The decision to drop him was understandable given that in four races his best result was 14th with a low of 20th and last place in the Pro Series finale.
Daniel Shields was drafted into Mercedes last year, dropped by it at the end of the Pro Series and also wasn’t brought on by any team for this year.
Racing in the same team as two-time champion Brendon Leigh (pictured above) was going to be a lot of pressure, but Shields didn’t score a point in either of the two races he took part in – finishing only 13th and 17th on those outings.
Not every Pro Draft driver even got a shot in the 2019 Pro Series. Allert van der Wal and Kimmy Larsson were picked by McLaren and Alfa Romeo respectively but never raced.
Larsson was present in the 2018 Pro Series where he drove for Renault and achieved a points finish once with 10th in Singapore.
McLaren had Enzo Bonito and Bono Huis represent it in every race in 2019 meaning van der Wal – who had some strong performances in the 2017/18 series for what was then Sauber – played no part in the 2019 Pro Series.
Only time will tell how the new draftees will perform in the Pro Series, but with two Challenger Series winners and a Pro Exhibition race winner among those selected, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be able to cut it against the already established names in F1 Esports.
As last year’s Pro Draft picks’ experiences show, everything from championship glory to the ignominy of never even racing could await the 2020 intake.