Motorsport’s governing body had previously been officially linked to the exclusive PlayStation gaming series, with an FIA-certified Gran Turismo World Series from 2018 to 2021.
This included regular online competitions and a series of select Esports events around the world culminating in a World Series final.
However, things have changed since the launch of the latest Gran Turismo 7 game earlier this year.
The FIA name quietly disappeared from the current championship and it is not part of the final World Series event taking place at Red Bull’s Hangar 7 in Austria next weekend.
Speculation that the FIA had chosen to go a different route on the gaming front was fueled further by its choice to use the Assetto Corsa Competizione platform for its Esport element in the upcoming Motorsport Games, which will take place in and around the Paul Ricard circuit from . 26-30 October.
However, speaking at a Motorsport Games launch event at the French Grand Prix on Saturday, the FIA has made it clear that its relationship with Gran Turismo is far from over.
Speaking exclusively to Motorsport.com, Frederic Bertrand, the FIA’s director of Formula E and Innovative Sport Activities Department, explained that the governing body had agreed with Gran Turismo boss Kazunori Yamauchi to put things on hold until the GT7 platform was more stable.
The game’s launch has been far from smooth, and it was plagued early on by a number of bugs and issues with the online experience in lobbies.
“It’s not over,” said Bertrand, when asked about the status of the FIA’s partnership with Gran Turismo.
“For Motorsport Games, the difficulty we had at the time was that they weren’t necessarily ready to support the live event as we wanted, because of GT7 and everything.
“So we agreed with them that we will work with Assetto Corsa for this one. It’s also easier for us, because it’s more open to many countries.
“But we’re still working with Gran Turismo on many other projects. So no, it’s not the end. It’s just an acceptance of 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 perfect Japanese finesse!”
Lewis Hamilton and Kazunori Yamauchi pose for a photograph with competitors before the Pro-Am race on November 22, 2019 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Jack Thomas – Gran Turismo/Gran Turismo via Getty Images)
Photo by: Gran Turismo via Getty Images
Bertrand said the FIA planned to send representatives to assess the progress of GT7 at next weekend’s Salzburg event with a view to renewing the partnership in the early stages of 2023 if the game looks like it is now in good enough shape.
“I’ll send my guys and if we feel it’s ready, we’ll go ahead again,” he said. “And then we’ll probably have another project early in the first quarter of next year with Gran Turismo.”
Bertrand said that the decision to pause things with Gran Turismo was made entirely mutually, and he respected Polyphony Studio and accepted that it was necessary to improve the product.
“At the moment it’s difficult but they’ve been very honest with us and told us they have to concentrate on that first,” he said.
“So we said, ‘OK, let’s make it simple.’ We need something for Motorsport Games anyway, so we said we have an alternative. We will go for this one. And then we continue with the development for 2023 with something that is at the level we all expect.”
FIA looks at worldwide ranking system
Bertrand also revealed that the FIA’s long-term ambition for its Esports involvement was to create a global ranking system covering all the major sim racing games.
“We have decided to go to a selected number of events where we will put the FIA logo, and if we can [have arrangements] as we did last year with the Olympic Virtual series, we will see how we can work with them further on that concept.
“But we are thinking more about creating a ranking system. What we want is to have [something like] tennis’ ATP, translated to Esport motorsport.
“We would like to be the one who creates the global ranking. So that the drivers know what level they are globally and what level they are in their region and in their country.
– It is a long discussion. You can imagine how many people we have to convince that we can bring with us!
“For us, we feel we have more to gain by making everyone under the FIA roof with this classification system. So that’s the goal right now.”