Motor racing’s governing body had previously been officially tied to the exclusive PlayStation gaming series, with there being an FIA-certified Gran Turismo World Series from 2018 to 2021.
This included regular online competitions and a number of select Esports events around the world which culminated in a World Series Final.
However, things have changed since the launch of the most recent Gran Turismo 7 game earlier this year.
The FIA name quietly disappeared from the current championship, and it is not a part of the latest World Series event that is taking place at Red Bull’s Hangar 7 in Austria next weekend.
Speculation that the FIA had elected to go a different route on the gaming front was fuelled further by it choosing to use the Assetto Corsa Competizione platform for its Esport element of the forthcoming Motorsport Games, which is taking place in and around the Paul Ricard circuit from October 26-30.
Speaking at a launch event for the Motorsport Games at the French Grand Prix on Saturday, however, the FIA has made clear that the 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 chief Kazunori Yamauchi to put things on hold until the GT7 platform was more stable.
The game’s launch has been far from trouble free, with it being beset early on by a host of glitches and problems with the online experience in lobbies.
“It’s not ended,” said Bertrand, when asked about the status of the FIA’s partnership with Gran Turismo.
“For Motorsport Games, the difficulty we had at that moment is that they were not 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 still work with Gran Turismo on plenty of other projects. So no, it’s not an 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 a perfect Japanese nice way!”
Lewis Hamilton and Kazunori Yamauchi pose for a photograph with competitors prior to 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 that the FIA planned to send representatives to judge the progress of GT7 at next weekend’s Salzburg event with a view to renewing the partnership in the early phase of 2023 if the game looks like it is now in a good enough state.
“I will send my guys and if we feel it’s ready, we’ll move on again,” he said “And then we will probably have another project early first quarter of next year with Gran Turismo.”
Bertrand said that the decision to pause things with Gran Turismo was done entirely mutually, and he respected the Polyphony Studio accepting it needed to improve the product.
“At the moment it is difficult, but they have been super honest with us, telling us they need to concentrate on that one first,” he said.
“So we said, ‘okay, let’s make it easy.’ We need anyway something for Motorsport Games, so we said we have an alternative option. We will go on this one. And then we keep on going forward with development for 2023 with something which is at the level we all expect.”
FIA eyes worldwide ranking system
Bertrand also revealed that the FIA’s long-term ambition for its Esports involvement was to create a global ranking system that covered all the major sim racing games.
“We have decided to go on a selected number of events where we will put the FIA logo, and if we can [have arrangements] like we did last year with the Olympic Virtual series, we will see how to work with them further on that concept.
“But we are more thinking of creating a ranking system. What we would like is to have [something like] the ATP of tennis, translated to Esport motorsport.
“We would like to be the one creating the global ranking. So that drivers know which level they are globally and which level they are in their region and in their country.
“It is a long discussion. You can imagine the number of people who we have to convince that we can bring something!
“For us, we feel that we have more to win on making everyone under the roof of FIA with this classification system. So that’s the goal right now.”