‘Fanboost’ Fail Mars Formula E’s Inaugural Virtual Race
Playing games has become quite the profession in recent years. No, really.
People are so drawn to watching people who are really good at games play games against each other that the crowds can fill a sports stadium.
Racing games lend themselves naturally to this sort of competition, so to coincide with the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and the third anniversary of the first Formula E race, organisers chose to pit a select group of 10 gamers against the 20 Formula E drivers, with a $1m pot of prize money on offer.
It was a nice idea, but one that quickly descended into a farce.
An issue with the rFactor 2 simulators meant that the race start was delayed and the length was cut to 20 laps instead of 28 – and then a glitch meant that twice-Formula E championship runner-up Lucas di Grassi didn’t start the race at all.
But it was the race end that saw the biggest controversy. A rather terse podium ceremony saw Dutch gamer Bono Huis practically refuse his second place trophy and it was later revealed why.
Yet another issue with the simulators had caused the winning Finnish driver Olli Pakhala to gain an unfair advantage. Instead of being allowed an extra dab of power for five to six seconds – the famous Formula E ‘Fanboost’ – Pakhala had been allowed the power for six laps, allowing him to overtake Huis despite a significant time gap.
Pakhala was eventually docked 12 seconds, demoting him to third behind Huis and real-life Formula E racer Felix Rosenqvist.
Alongside winning the race, Huis took pole position and won a cool $225,000 for his day’s work.
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