01 Mar 21
The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship goes virtual as 24 of the worlds fastest sim races join the 12 official teams for the esports series.
Kelvin van der Linde
Kelvin van der Linde has been a part of the Audi Sport stable since 2015. Among his top achievements on-track is a victory in the gruelling 24 Hours of Nurburgring in 2017.
The South African racer started practicing on rFactor back in 2010. During his career as a sim-racer, he sealed victory in several rounds of the Team Redline Lockdown Series for Real Racers.
Having experienced the best of both racing worlds, van der Linde identifies the potential of sim racing to ensure he keeps his track skills sharp. He also finds it’s the perfect way to wind down after a race weekend or to have a laugh with friends.
Italian sim racer Manuel Biancolilla is no stranger to the world of esports, with the virtual racing talent currently representing Musto GD Esports.
His passion for sim racing started six years ago. Since then, the 20-year-old from Syracuse has had multiple successes. Last year, he took part in the F1 Esports competition, lining up with Scuderia Toro Rosso’s esports squad. He also took part in the Le Mans 24 Hours Virtual where he achieved second place in the GTE Class.
The Italian hopes his virtual performance will one day catch the eye of a real-world team and open up the opportunity to become a simulator development driver.
The winner of the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge, Kevin Siggy is back for Formula E: Accelerate as he joins the BMW i Andretti Motorsport squad.
The Slovenian first dipped his toes in sim racing when playing F1 2011 and has been racing since 2012 when he was only 13 years old, with plenty of years experience racing online Siggy currently represents BMW Team Redline.
Already a winner in Formula E esports, Siggy also took the top honours in the McLaren Shadow Project in 2018, beating some of the world's fastest sim racers.
His ultimate racing goal is to one day head into real motorsport with a full-time drive. Right now, the Slovenian remains fully-focussed on Formula E: Accelerate and beating his rFactor2 rival, Erhan Jajovski.
A regular podium finisher from the Race at Home Challenge, Petar Brljak is back to try and steal the limelight from BMW i Andretti teammate Kevin Siggy.
The Croatian ventured into sim racing and rFactor 2 in 2011 after initially being a keen fan of digital motorsport. Since then, he's risen to be one of the top competitors and currently represents BMW Team GB.
Brljak has taken part in a host of competitions including the ESL Racing Series, GPVWC Superleague and the FSR World Championship, finishing runner-up in the latter in 2020.
Peyo Peev turned to sim racing eight years ago when he saw it had started to become a potential gateway and an option to pave his way into motorsport.
A familiar name to Formula E, Peev competed in the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge. The Bulgarian scored one of the biggest wins in his sim racing career to date after taking a race victory on his way to fourth in the final standings.
The Bulgarian always dreamt of a career in real-life racing and hopes that esports will help open some doors until then he recognises the power of sim racing as a training tool.
The fastest driver from the Formula E: Accelerate Qualifiers, Frederik Rasmussen lines up on the virtual grid for DRAGON / PENSKE AUTOSPORT.
The Red Bull Racing Esports team driver got into sim racing in 2014. Rasmussen has since grown to be one of the top competitors in sim racing and has been part of the line-up that secured the Teams’ Championship honours in F1 Esports in both 2019 and 2020.
The Danish sim racer likes to keep his feet on the ground and is content with what he is doing, but Rasmussen does not deny that the opportunity for a real-world drive would be a dream come true.
DS TECHEETAH has selected its official simulator driver, and Williams Esports competitor, Arthur Lehouch for Formula E: Accelerate.
The 21-year-old has been part of the two-time Formula E champions’ squad since the start of the 2018/19 season, with the Franco-Chinese team taking advantage of the Frenchman's experience in the virtual world.
Lehouck turned to the sim-racing world six years ago, having started karting in 2007 where he impressed, finished second in the Juniors’ class of the French championship, and he also finished seventh in the European Juniors’ Championship.
In 2020, Lehouck took part in some high-profile esports races such as the iRacing 24 Hours of Spa where he managed to secure a third-place finish for the MAHLE RACING TEAM.
Nikodem Wisniewski lines up for DS TECHEETAH in Formula E: Accelerate, with the real-world Formula E champions looking to the top Polish sim racer to extend its success into the virtual world.
Wisniewski started in the virtual mud of Richard Burns Rally after his brother-in-law introduced him to the renowned rally sim back in 2010. Since then, he has been picking up multiple wins in the Polish sim racing leagues.
The Polish ace has racked up accolades including successes in WTCR Esports, ADAC GT Masters Esports, along with being a finalist in both the WRC Esports and GT Academy Europe. His biggest win came in the Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2020.
Red Bull Esports driver Graham Carroll joins Envision Virgin Racing for Formula E: Accelerate.
Carroll started his racing career in the real world but switched to sim racing due to the high costs involved in making it in motorsport. Among his memorable achievements, the man from Edinburgh fondly remembers winning the Walter Hayes Trophy race at Silverstone.
Carroll is a Formula E esports veteran having taken part in the eRace competition in Las Vegas, which earned him a real-world drive in a Gen1 car in Marrakesh. He was also a race winner in last year's ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge.
Accomplished Hungarian sim racer Timea Bencsik will compete for Envision Virgin Racing in Formula E: Accelerate.
One of the top female sim racers, Bencsik, has a raft of wins in the sim racing world. She has scored victories in the CUPRA Simracing Series and multiple wins in the WTCR Esports competition last season.
Bencsik's sim racing has fuelled her passion for motorsport, her main goal for the future is to become a real-world driver, with the ultimate ambition of taking part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Czech Martin Stefanko - now racing for Williams Esports - got into sim-racing in 2008, when his parents bought him a copy of GTR2 which led to a switch to rFactor in 2010 after seeing videos of the sim on YouTube.
Since then, Stefanko has taken part in many competitions such as McLaren World’s Fastest Gamer, FSR World Championship and also represents the Czech Republic in the VCO Cup of Nations.
In 2018, Stefanko joined the F1 Esports Pro Draft, and got to spend time with people who shared his passion and helped him to improve his skills.
The 23-year-old always fights to the end, as showcased when he snatched the Virtual GP Championship in the final race at the very last corner on the final lap. His plans for the future are very clear; he is determined to continue and improve his career in the sim racing world but has an eye on other areas of the sport, such as managing a team or in driver coaching.
Stefanko fears no one on the grid and he has a very simple strategy for the upcoming rounds: “Beat them all!”
Jakub Brzezinski’s passion has always been motorsport. Sim racing is a gateway for many to the sport and since the 24-year-old decided to take it up, he has never looked back.
The Polish ace now represents Williams Esports and has participated in competitions such as WTCR Esports, where he was crowned champion, and he sealed victory in the 2020 Le Mans 24 Hours Virtual which he considers to be his greatest achievement of his career so far.
His goal is growing his income in sim racing to be able to take part in some of the biggest competitions around the world
As for Formula E: Accelerate, the Polish talent knows who to keep an eye on: “Kevin Siggy is going to be the one to beat.”
After pushing Kevin Siggy all the way to the final round of the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge, Lucas Mueller is back with Mahindra Racing in Formula E: Accelerate.
Back in the number 94 Mahindra, Lucas returns to represent the Indian manufacturer after becoming part of Dilbagh Gil's racing family. Away from the virtual Formula E grid, the German sim racer currently represents Haupt Racing Team.
The German has always loved cars and motorsport, which fired up online racing passion. In the future, Lucas is determined to be part of the motorsport industry.
Experienced sim racer Olli Pahkala returns the virtual Formula E grid for Mahindra Racing in Formula E: Accelerate.
Pahkala got into sim racing thanks to a friend who introduced him into esports. The next day he had already bought his first wheel and pedals, and the rest is history.
The Finnish ace is another driver returning to the Mahindra fold having represented the Indian manufacturer in the Las Vegas eRace in 2017. The moustachioed Pahkala has been a feature in all the major sim racing tournaments from F1 Esports, iRacing World Championship and the Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Bono Huis returns to Formula E esports joining Mercedes-Benz EQ on the virtual grid for Formula E: Accelerate.
Huis will be remembered for his last outing in Formula E sim racing for his $200,000 win in the Las Vegas eRace in 2017.
Fast-forward to 2020 and the Dutchman from Maastricht is part of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports Team competing in F1 Esports. In his first competitive outing representing Mercedes, he won the Sim Masters title as part of The Race All-Star esports series.
Mercedes-Benz EQ recruit Jarno Opmeer raced in the real world before switching to the virtual arena.
The 20-year-old won the Dutch Karting championship three times and competed in Formula 4 and Formula Renault 2.0 before making his debut in F1 Esports in 2019.
The following season turned out to be Jarno’s most successful. In the 2020 F1 Esports campaign he claimed eight podiums and four wins en route to the F1 Esports Pro Series Drivers’ Championship.
Chinese sim racer Jiayu Zhang joins NIO 333 FE Team for Formula E: Accelerate.
Shanghai-born Zhang got into sim racing when he worked as a race engineer and coach for the BT eSports Racing Team. Since then, he has been racking up top results, including playing a vital role in Team Boosters' victory in the China Sim Racing League.
Zhang is a professional kart and touring car racer away from the virtual arena. He has previous experience with all-electric street racing having aided former NIO 333 driver Ma Qinghua in the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge.
Risto Kappet will race alongside Jiayu Zhang for NIO 333 in Formula E: Accelerate.
The Estonian sim racer has always been interested in cars and videogames. His work in the karting community and hunger for speed pushed him to start sim racing, where he has made a successful career for himself.
Kappet, who currently drives for Romain Grosjean’s R8G Esports team alongside Erhan Jajovski, has had an impressive career to date with appearances in esports competitions such as rF1 Touring Pro Series Carrera. However, his fondest memory goes back to 2000 when he won the Sim Formula Europe series.
Jan von der Heyde
Jan von der Heyde is a German sim racer, representing Zansho Simsport. Von der Heyde started out when the increasing cost of karting made it impossible for him to continue. He saw virtual racing as an alternative, got himself a copy of rFactor and decided to join a number of competitive leagues.
The German sim racer competed in the World Fastest Gamer in the 2017. A year later, he was involved in McLaren’s Shadow Project contest and in 2020 the Dutchman competed in the Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans where he finished ninth overall and got to virtually race alongside Jenson Button.
Jan von der Heyde hasn’t identified any rivals on the grid, but he is determined to work hard to turn sim racing into a full-time job and show what he is made of amid an ultra-competitive grid.
Young German Marc Gassner will be a part of Nissan e.dams’ line-up in Formula E: Accelerate. He started out a decade back with EA’s F1 Challenge 99-02 - a precursor to the original rFactor simulation.
Gassner has had the opportunity to experience racing in the real-world, too. In 2014, he won the GT Academy and turned a childhood dream into reality.
In esports, he has won the Volkswagen ID.R RaceRoom Challenge in 2019 and a year later, finished third overall in the Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Gassner hopes to continue competing against other sim racers and pursue further career opportunities in esports and in real-life racing.
“There is a great amount of respect between all competitive sim-racers,” says Gassner. “The level of competition appears to be very high, making this a real challenge and I’m definitely up for one!”
Austrian Lorenz Horzing will line up for ROKiT Venturi Racing over the six-race Formula E: Accelerate series. Sim racing was just for fun at first for Horzing, but as time went by, his skill improved and he realised he was often very competitive, which led to him registering for the F1 2018 League where his talent didn’t go unnoticed.
From that moment, he entered a number of championships, including the Formula E Race at Home Challenge. The 19-year-old cherishes the memories he’s made competing with fellow sim racers and loves that the discipline gives him the opportunity to meet real-life racing drivers.
He is determined to push on and make esports a full-time job and he hopes that Formula E: Accelerate can be the first step on the way to this.
Erhan Jajovski, currently representing Romain Grosjean's R8G Esports, will race alongside Lorenz Horzing for ROKiT Venturi Racing in Formula E: Accelerate.
The North Macedonian first turned a sim wheel in Race 07. After taking a long break away from the sport, he started taking a keen interest in Assetto Corsa in 2014 and in 2017 he switched to rFactor 2 and has continued there ever since. He’s mastered the sim since, to the extent his peers refer to him as the “rFactor 2 GOAT.”
The 26-year-old has taken part in some of the most famous esports competitions around, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual and BMW SIM Live in 2020, the latter of which saw his greatest victory to date.
Jajovski feels sim racing’s exponential growth over the past year will continue, and on this wave he hopes to experience many more exciting opportunities. His dream? Being able to get a taste of real-life racing - and with a Gen2 test drive on offer in Formula E: Accelerate, it’s within grasp.
Marius Golombeck will once again line up for TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team in Formula E: Accelerate, having turned out for the outfit in the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge - a source of great pride for the German.
Sim racing provided a means of keeping the passion alive when the weather was too poor to go karting, and as the discipline started to grow, Golombeck saw esports as a great opportunity to combine his passions.
He’s taken part in tournaments such as the first Digital Nurburgring Endurance TCR Series, the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge as well as iRacing’s Le Mans 24 Hours in 2019, where Golombeck sealed victory - the biggest win of his career to-date.
In Formula E: Accelerate, Marius will have his eyes on his teammate Jaroslav who he raced against almost ten years ago.
Prague-born Jaroslav Honzik will be racing alongside Marius Golombeck at TAG Heuer Porsche.
In a career that stretches back to 2005, the sim racer has competed in AOR Championship in Assetto Corsa Competizione and Project Cars 2, as well as the SMS-R Project Cars 2 World Championship.
He says his greatest win to-date was his first ever in the real world in BMW 130i Cup in 2006 but Honzik also enjoyed taking part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual, where he was able to compete alongside pro racing drivers and show them just how to race in the virtual world.