The 2019 edition of F1 Esports series starts next week with the qualifiers as prize money has been increased with an additional event as well.

After the success of 2018, the F1 ESports series is back for 2019 with the qualifiers to start this month, with the first event scheduled for April 8-21 (Chinese track), followed by the second one on April 22 – May 5 (Baku) and third on May 5-19 (Barcelona).

The race-off will then take place on May 27-29 with the selected players to feature in the Pro Draft in July for the F1 teams to pick their racers for the 2019 season. The qualifiers will see the use of the 2018 F1 game on various platforms.

It includes the PlayStation 4 computer entertainment system, the Xbox One family of devices including the Xbox One X and PC. In addition, one lucky esports fan will win an all-expenses trip to the Pro Draft event and also the 2019 British GP.

The Pro Series will then take place between September and December with nine F1 teams competing against each other – with the exception of Ferrari. The prize money has been increased to $500,000 with four events to take place instead of three in 2018.

Like the F1 championship, the ESports series will also award an extra point to racers for setting the fastest lap. Meanwhile, a Chinese F1 ESports Championship is also to start in 2020 with the launch event to take place during the Chinese GP next weekend.

Sean Bratches said: “Last season was a decisive year for F1 Esports with the inclusion of the first official teams and record audience figures. As we move into this 2019 season, F1 will remain at the forefront of this explosive industry.

“The potential within this space is extremely exciting both as a commercial opportunity, but importantly, as a way for the sport to engage with the next generation of motorsport fans. We are committed to exponential growth in the world of esports.

“As a result the 2019 season is going to be even bigger and better. Having more than doubled the prize fund, we plan to attract even more talent to the series and to continue the upward trajectory we are on.”

Codemasters’ CEO, Frank Sagnier added: “The F1 New Balance Esports Series creates exciting opportunities for Codemasters to further engage with our core community and develop experiences for fans with a passion for both virtual and real-world racing.

“We’re always investigating ways to better integrate esports into our F1 games, as this will encourage more players to test their race skills against the top professionals, and we look forward to welcoming the new talent who will emerge this season.”

Finally, Gfinity’s, Garry Cook said: “F1 New Balance Esports Series has captured the imagination of the global gaming community. It delivers incredible racing and through entertaining content, such as the draft show, gives fans a reason to care about the drivers.

“Esports fans want it all. They want the back stories, the drivers’ journeys to greatness, the emotion of being chosen to represent an F1 team. And they want to experience daring manoeuvres on the track. F1 New Balance Esports Series delivers this.

“That is why a new and younger audience is embracing the F1 story. Series 3 is going to be bigger, bolder and more entertaining than ever.” The news of the Esports series comes after F1 announced its 2019 game, due to launch earlier this season on June 28.