On the verge of Gran Turismo’s World Series esports competition kicking off later today, 23rd July, the FIA has commented exclusively on its relationship with developers Polyphony Digital and the competition.
Notably, the FIA has been associated with Sony’s flagship racing title in a competitive sense since 2018 as the sanctioning body for both the Nations Cups and the Manufacturer Series. These used the GT Sport platform, before shifting to Gran Turismo 7 for this year.
With that change came an absence of FIA branding during the in-game qualifying rounds and at this weekend’s event. Fuelling rumours of a split, the FIA announced the use of the rival title Assetto Corsa Competizione for its upcoming Motorsport Games event.
“It’s not ended,” said Frederic Bertrand, the FIA’s director of Formula E and Innovative Sport Activities Department, when asked about the relationship between Gran Turismo and motor racing’s governing body.
“For [the] Motorsport Games [event], the difficulty we had at that moment is that they were not necessarily ready to support the live event as we wanted, because of Gran Turismo 7 and everything.
“So we agreed with them that we will work with Assetto Corsa for this one,” explained Bertrand, speaking to Motorsport Networks’ Formula 1 editor Jonathan Noble – who passed on the comments to Traxion.GG for publication – at the media launch of the aforementioned Motorsport Games event, hosted in France between 26th-30th October 2022.
“But we still work with Gran Turismo on plenty of other projects. So no, it’s not an end. It’s just an acceptance of a non-exclusive approach, and we feel that esports needs to be more open.
“That’s what we agreed with Kazunori-san. It’s agreed, and it’s done in a perfect Japanese nice way!”
Next weekend, 30th-31st July, will see the in-person live Gran Turismo World Series Showdown from Red Bull’s Hangar-7 in Salzburg, Austria. It mixes emerging Gran Turismo talent with existing race winners and will be split across both days.
While the event is not FIA affiliated, there will be representatives present to investigate Gran Turismo 7‘s evolution, hopefully leading to a partnership return.
“I will send my guys [to Salzburg] and if we feel it’s ready, we’ll move on again. And then we will probably have another project early in the first quarter of next year with Gran Turismo,” explained Bertrand.
While the details about that project remain to be seen, however, this is clear confirmation that all is not lost when it comes to the federation and Gran Turismo tieing up for competitions once more.
Since its launch, Gran Turismo 7 has suffered from online playability issues. While the ranked Sport Mode is stable on the whole, the online lobbies have been riddled with errors. It took four months before the option of changing lobby settings was possible, and even now the ability to set track votes or save settings – like in GT Sport – are both absent.
“Polyphony Digital has been super honest with us. So we said, ‘okay, let’s make it easy.’ We needed something for the upcoming Motorsport Games event, so we found an alternative option. Then hopefully they keep on going forward with development for 2023 to something which is at the level we all expect,” continued Bertrand.
While the game’s developers are continuing to work on an improved competitive experience, the FIA is also investigating a global esports ranking, taking into account events across different sim racing platforms.
“What we would like is to have the ATP of tennis, translated to esports motorsport. We would like to be the one creating the global ranking. So that drivers know which level we are globally and which level they are in their region and in their country.”
While the FIA is not present as it stands for Gran Turismo’s esports events, it still features within the game’s Brand Central area – a testament to the ongoing dialogue.
A pre-recorded Gran Turismo Manufacturers Cup event will be broadcast today, 23rd July, followed by the Nations Cup on the 24th. The live Showdown follows a week later, as does a new game update featuring three new cars.
Featured image credit: Sony, PlayStation Blog. Valerio Gallo image supplied by Valerio Gallo.