Following a five-month process to find the next member of the Scuderia Ferrari Esports Team, instead, three drivers now share the coveted title.
The competition was split into three regions, where participants from each area have previously gone through rounds of qualifying and points-scoring races to determine the line-up for the final races.
2023 Ferrari Esports Series, APAC final
Hong Kong’s Chris Tsang placed his Ferrari on pole position at Misano, following a 15-minute qualifying session using Assetto Corsa Competizione. He led Australians Luca Giacomin and Geoff Newton, with Indonesian competitor Irfan Nur Hidayat completing the second row.
At the start of the one-hour race, Giacomin swept around the outside of Tsang for the lead, but behind contact between Newton, Hidayat and Kong Yat Long heading into Variante del Parco left Newton and Hidayat at the back of the pack. Long survived and claimed third.
It was a lonely podium position too, as Giacoin and Tsang sprinted away at the head of the field, the gap between the two never more than 1.5s up until the mandatory pitstop. Both entered pitlane on the same lap around the halfway mark.
With 20 minutes remaining, Tsang dived for the lead at Curva Quercia, only for the door to be slammed shut and light contact between the two 296 GT3s.
The move was repeated seven minutes later, only this time Tsang got an advantageous run into the following Curva Tramonto and took first place.
The positions wouldn’t hold, with the Australian fighting back at the final corner two laps later in a move that would stick and secure the title.
2023 Ferrari Esports Series APAC champion: Luca Giacomin
2023 Ferrari Esports Series, EU final
Over to the Europen contingent, and the identical one-hour race in 296 GT3s awaited. The Netherlands locked out the front row, with Jeffrey Miguel Reno Richie on pole position by a scant 0.018s from compatriot Isaac Gillissen.
Italy’s Leonardo Luis D’Alcamo represented the Prancing Horse’s home nation in third, with Croatian Benjamin Ostrek fourth.
At the beginning of the race, Richie bolted, as Ostrek battled his way up to second, but in doing so allowed a 1.2s gap to open up to the leader.
Ostrek would only hold that position for 10 minutes, as Gillissen fought back into Curva del Rio to secure the runners-up spot.
The two Dutch drivers were nose-to-tail with 20 minutes complete, heading into the pit window. Richie staved off several attacks and entered pitlane one lap before Gillissen.
Staying out didn’t work for the Veloce Esports driver, as not only did Richie keep the lead, but Hungarian Gergő Báldi leapt from fifth to second by pitting before the rest of the field.
The 2020 eWTCR champion then had half an hour to try and stave off the competition on older tyres. It was futile as recent Formula E Accelerate finalist Gillissen pulled off a now-signature move into Curva del Rio to reclaim second.
With 20 minutes remaining, first and second collided on the opening corner’s exit. With both contenders now facing the wrong way, Baldi snatched the lead ahead of Ostrek and a recovering Gillissen with David Nagy in fourth.
Erstwhile leader Richie rejoined in a lowly sixth, Gillissen handed a 10-second penalty. Despite this, he would press on, re-taking the on-track lead and crossing the line first. Due to that reprimand, however, he would be classified fourth behind Ostrek, Stefano Bonsignore who had used a late pitstop to great effect and EU champion Báldi.
2023 Ferrari Esports Series EU champion: Gergő Báldi
2023 Ferrari Esports Series, Americas final
The third and final, well, final, of the Ferrari Esports Series was for the drivers competing in the Americas.
The front row would once again be completed by one nation, this time Ryan Woodrow ahead of Skyler Loverink, both from the United States of America.
Puerto Rican Ricardo Rivera would be third and Canadian Brandon Hawkin fourth.
At the beginning, the top three split from the rest of the pack, with pole-sitter Woodrow leading Loverink and Rivera.
The order would be stagnant for the first 15 minutes until Loverink got one over his fellow American at Curva del Carro to take a lead that was not to be relinquished.
At the halfway stage beckoned, Rivera was the first to pit, trying to undercut the top two. Leader Loverink reacted the next lap, staying ahead of the driver who finished 11th in the regional competition last season.
Woodrow would wait for several laps later to pit, dropping to third behind Rivera but with fresher rubber. He would, however, receive a drivethrough penalty for multiple track limit violations, dropping to fourth. That allowed last season’s leading NA entrant Brandon Hawkin through onto the podium.
Loverink, who races with a motion rig, controlled the event, however, taking the title ahead of Rivera and Hawkin.
2023 Ferrari Esports Series America champion: Skyler Loverink
Overall title decider
The plan was then for the judges – 2022 Ferrari Esports champion Jonathan Riley, Project Manager at Ferrari Tiziana Mecozzi and P1 podcast star Matt Gallagher – to award additional points for drivers based on their performances and claim an overall champion who would become a Ferrari manufacturer esports driver for 2024.
But, in a plot twist, three drivers ended up with even points, so there are now three 2023 Ferrari Esports Champions and an expanded prize pool.
Ultimately, APAC champion Luca Giacomin, EU champion Gergő Báldi and fourth-placed EU driver Isaac Gillissen would be jointly awarded the crown, with Americas champion Skyler Loverink missing out.
2023 Ferrari Esports Series champions:
- Luca Giacomin
- Gergő Báldi
- Isaac Gillissen