Fernando Alonso is not the first real world racing driver to enter the ethereal realm of Sim Racing, and Fernando Alonso won’t be the last racing driver to get into Sim Racing either but in terms of celebrity status, Fernando Alonso has officially moved the Sim Racing needle in terms of relevancy in the world of Sim Racing.
While a lot of people will be expecting me to go on a two thousand word tirade on why I think Alonso would kill off Esports and would be detriment to everyone. I think this is a positive step in the right direction and one which will help everyone to get better in the long term.
As a bit of background, many drivers across multiple platforms in some way or another have been involved with Sim Racing. If you take my area of expertise alone, being iRacing, you have right at the very top Mitchell DeJong, a Global Rallycross driver with a X-Games Gold Medal as well as Marin Colak who is a former ETCC and WTCC driver. Behind that is a whole slew of names including reigning BTCC Champion Ashley Sutton, WEC driver Nicki Thiim, former F1 driver Rubens Barrichello, F3 champion Lando Norris, Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, V8 Supercars legend Shane van Gisbergen, Antonio Di Pasquale, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Esteban Ocon, Frank Biela, Edoardo Mortara, Daniel Juncadella, and the list goes on and on. Fernando is joining some of the best names across all of motorsport in jumping onto the band wagon and having an active presence within Sim Racing.
Which then leads to G2 Esports and the most logical decision in the world for Fernando Alonso to go to. In G2 you have a highly professional structure in Esports and a very good understanding of what needs to be achieved at the highest levels. G2 are not a team who set up for second best or failure and would be a dream for any driver to be a part of. G2 have proven in the early development of the team that they know what it means to make an impact, signing up the World’s Fastest Gamer winner in Rudy van Buren along with one of the great simulator all rounders in Cem Bolukbasi.
Managing them too is Danny Engels who may need to prove himself as I have said on multiple occasions but I can see this being only a blessing for Engels with Alonso as their principal. No other Sim Racing team apart from maybe Team Redline could have had the ability to rope in Alonso at the highest level and gain the massive attention that is needed for G2 to make an even larger impact than they already have.
The next question comes onto platform and with a team that has only two drivers signed and one locked to a McLaren deal, many will wonder how much time van Buren will have to race in 2018 so with Cem currently the only other driver, according to Motorsport.com, it is expected the team will race F1 2017, rFactor2 and some other platforms too, which rightfully so, means G2 or shall I say FA Racing G2 Logitech G (The biggest mouthful of a team name I have seen in a while,) will be very open to racing on all platforms.
Keeping open on all platforms means options are open in terms of their base of operations and they can push for whatever they feel like in the opening stages. Fernando Alonso himself said that he needed to improve on his pace before challenging at the highest levels and I expect G2 to probably make two more signings before March 2018. The announcement completely misses the boat with any iRacing competition for 2018 and that is ok in my book because jumping this late into iRacing would only spell a year wasted on GT3 and endurance and I am not sure that is the road Alonso wants to be going down. On the other hand it could have lead to some iRacing Grand Prix Series races but naturally with a lot less exposure, there would be a lot of time wasted on that front.
So G2 have been bold. They have pushed the envelope as far as you possibly can in terms of exposure short of Sebastian Vettel or Lewis Hamilton and the big plus comes down to moving the needle in Sim Racing terms. I don’t expect however to give out a pink slip to G2 just because they have Alonso in their ranks and I would be very happy to talk criticism as much as praise. (As much as some readers don’t believe me.) G2 are trying to make an almighty splash in the waters and it would come as no surprise to see G2 fighting near the front from very early on however what has to be understood is that a team takes time and the process will always be a long and winding road.
If G2 wants to really come at things running, then wherever they want to apply their trade, I could easily see G2 making headway on rFactor2. I don’t see how much exposure outside of the World Championship F1 Esports can produce, and i think the only thing iRacing could possibly offer is a chance to go for World Tour events which I don’t think is in the best interest of the team looking at the signings.
Asides from that, its a welcome move into Esports for Fernando, one that yes you can criticize for being all about exposure, but one that will attract more people into Sim Racing without a shadow of a doubt.