Introducing Haas F1 Esports Team

Drivers Martin Štefanko and Michal Šmídl Prepare for Season Kickoff in London

KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (Oct. 9, 2018) – The F1 New Balance Esports Pro Series 2018 kicks off on Wednesday inside London’s Gfinity Arena, whereupon Haas F1 Esports Team drivers Martin Štefanko and Michal Šmídl will make their debut as teammates competing in the virtual world of Formula One racing.

The 20-year-old Štefanko and the 23-year-old Šmídl, both from the Czech Republic, will represent Haas F1 Esports Team against eight other squads, all of which are tied directly to organizations competing in the FIA Formula One World Championship. Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports, Red Bull Racing Esports Team, Hype Energy eForce India F1 Esports Team, Williams Esports, Renault Sport Team Vitality, McLaren Shadow, Toro Rosso Esports Team and Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 eSports Team and their respective drivers will compete against Štefanko and Šmídl in 10 rounds of sim racing using the official F1 2018 video game, published by Codemasters.

Štefanko and Šmídl were among 66,000 entrants from over 100 territories who took part in four qualifying rounds that whittled the field down to 40 semi-finalists for the Pro Draft used by teams to select its drivers. Štefanko was taken third overall and Šmídl was the14th pick.

Štefanko is a standout sim racer and Šmídl has earned championships in other Esports events, but this is their first time in the F1 New Balance Esports Pro Series. Both were rivals prior to joining Haas F1 Esports Team. They competed against each other heavily, most notably in last year’s Virtual GP title chase where Štefanko won at Suzuka Circuit on a last-lap pass of Šmídl in the final corner to win the championship. Šmídl has avenged that loss in 2018 by winning 11 of 11 races in Virtual GP and holds a commanding 130-point lead over Štefanko with only one race remaining – a return to Suzuka on Oct. 27.

On Wednesday, this duo races for a common goal as drivers for Haas F1 Esports Team. It is the first of three live events that will be streamed in real time on F1’s Facebook page and broadcast globally on select TV networks. There is a prize pool of $200,000 with driver and team championships on the line. The 10 circuits are all taken from the Formula One calendar, with the remaining events taking place on Oct. 31 and Nov. 17, also at Gfinity Arena. For a full event schedule, please visit F1’s Facebook page.

How have you prepared for this tournament?

“Overall, I think we’ve prepared pretty well. We’ve spent a lot of time doing qualifying and race simulations, and working on general pace, consistency and strategy.”

How are you working with your teammate and how do you expect to work together in this first event?

“So far, it’s been really good. We’re working together on the setup, the strategy, ERS management, sharing all tips and tricks. We don’t have expectations in terms of how we will work together in the events, but if, for example, one of us will be stuck behind the other, we’ll either let him go or not fight each other too hard, because our main concentration is the constructors’ championship and we want to get as many points as a team.”

Have you competed against the drivers on these other teams in the past?

“Only with a very few drivers. It’s going to be a new experience for me and I’m really looking forward to it.”

What are your expectations for this event?

“First of all, we want to see how everything works, where we are in terms of pace and performance, and then we’ll go from there.”

How have you prepared for this tournament?

“I have been busy with other competitions in recent days, but I still feel I’m prepared for this event.”

How are you working with your teammate and how do you expect to work together in this first event?

“We are practicing together and sharing every tip, info and, obviously, the setup of the car. Martin is little bit faster than me because I am struggling with the tire management.”

Have you competed against the drivers on these other teams in the past?

“Yes, but in different games.”

What are your expectations for this event?

“I will take it as a lesson this time around and come back stronger for the remaining two events.”

Formula One is a technological arms race where teams scrutinize every detail in a never-ending quest for speed. Haas F1 Team has thrived in this environment, with the American squad able to compete head-to-head with the Formula One establishment. Haas F1 Esports Team looks to emulate these efforts in the virtual world, where gaming technology provides a visceral experience that amplifies the grit and determination of Formula One drivers in the real world. Haas F1 Esports Team is a natural extension of Haas F1 Team, where competition and simulation are one.