2018 – A year that has changed everything

By this time in 2017, I was still in euphoria after graduation. To finally have that paper in my hand felt like a win. But it was also that moment of your life, when you face a crucial decision. What to do next? Which way to go now? Luckily, I had a clue. As the third season of Virtual GP was coming to its end, there was a plan for me to commit full-time for 2018. I knew that is what I wanted to do, especially after I have understood that studying did not allow me to focus on the work as good as I want. And despite some uncertainties and possibility of a slow year, I went along with that plan. But I did not know what to expect and that scared me. Until the point when a bombshell came – Mercedes-Benz had agreed to become our title partner for 2018. And that was just a beginning…

Suddenly, there lied the biggest opportunity yet. With a partnership we had always strived for. You know, while there are several sponsored esports sim racing series out there, most of the big ones enjoy the backing of real racing series or game publishers. Being an independent entity makes things much harder as you cannot rely on a support of any existing structure. We had to build it first. And clearly, we had to be doing something well to manage such a deal with a car manufacturer. And not just anyone, but a strong and a successful brand that has been also dominating Formula 1 for years now. It was a dream come true. And it changed everything.

VGP Studio
Virtual GP at RE-PLAY studio

Heading into 2018 was not scary anymore, but full of hope. A new beginning and a chance to utilise everything we have learnt over the past few years. To put our experience and our skills to use with a great level of professionalism. That felt like the biggest step so far and played an important role for me. With a certain stability and security behind, we could also focus more on the show itself. A big thanks goes to the team for achieving that, a producer Vojtěch Novák and Ondřej Ulč, officially a cameraman, but he is also a fundamental part of getting things done.

Why is all this so important? Well, as an independent entity, there was nobody we could learn from. Like I mentioned above, we had to build everything. That means going through ‘hell’ and discovering everything on our own. Coming into this project, we only had some previous media experience and a passion for racing and video games. And obviously an inspiration in high-quality Formula 1 coverage produced by BBC or Sky. But in terms of a live production or a motorsport production, we had just a dream. Now I have to knock on wood that apart from some minor hiccups, that just happens in esports sometimes, the 2018 season has been brilliant from a production point of view. As we finally know some useful little tweaks and tricks.

Sakhir VGP
Mercedes-Benz Virtual GP 2018 – Round 07 – Sakhir

The Mercedes-Benz Virtual GP 2018 season has been a blast so far. I am really glad to be part of such a determined and talented team. Those of you who have been following me for some time already know, that my dream was to work for BBC F1, after seeing my first F1 race on British TV back in 2010. I admired their passion and dedication, now passed to Channel 4 or Sky. It is amazing that we have such a work environment here in virtual racing now too. It might still surprise someone, but it offers all the racing ingredients as well, like wheel to wheel battles, rivalries and personalities. And I love it.

To make things even better, we added English coverage to the mix last year. And it is not just because I am a huge fan of the English language, but it actually allows us to offer our races to the largest audience possible. For 2018, we have decided to make it even bigger, increasing the amount of content for the non-Czech audience as well. And I am incredibly proud of that progress. However, that all would not be possible though without our brilliant commentators – Justin Sutton and Chris Buxton, they are doing miracles behind the microphones. Same goes to Kate Hewitt, who is doing magic with the words and putting together all those great articles, press releases and race reports for us. And cannot forget our Czech commentator Richard Tesař as well.

Some people might wonder if it pays off. Well, it does. Thanks to all this we have been able to make more dreams come true. We see an interest from media, even websites like Motorsport or Autosport, mostly thanks to Michal Šmídl and Martin Štefanko, our two champions, who now also drive Haas F1 Team in the F1 Esports championship. But Virtual GP itself also generates interest abroad, putting putting our English coverage to good use. As of today, our last year’s Thrustmaster Virtual GP 2017 season is now available on Amazon Video (UK and US only) and also worldwide on a GINX Esports TV. Funnily enough, GINX is partially owned by Sky, so in a way, my work has finally made it to Sky! Seeing our show there, across the world and also listed on the Sky website is another incredible achievement of 2018. And another dream come true. Who would have thought, right?

That would not be possible without Benjamin Field, who takes care of our interests abroad. And that leads me to Twitter, which has always played a very important part in my life. None of my friends did watch motorsport, so to join an online community like this, to chat about racing, it was great. And I think that it really works as a community of people, who does not hesitate to help each other. While some people would disagree, my personal experience is that you can find real friends and business opportunities on social media. I even got my first producing job at The F1 Times (now Motorsport Week) thanks to Twitter. And I’ve got to know Ben, who has been excited about Virtual GP since the very beginning and it is a pleasure to be working together now.

Sky
Virtual GP – Sky.com

Little crazy to think, that it all started as a little tournament and now we have this big project on our hands with a great potential. All these achievements make me very happy and I would not want to do anything else. Living a dream. Funny to remember those doubters now, who despised of my passion and determination when I was a child. It is so important to stay on course and ignore that, which would not be possible without all those amazing people and friends surrounding me now. Also a special thanks to my parents and of course I have to mention my idol, hero and the biggest source of motivation – Michael Schumacher!

A little bit early for 2018 summary? Well, there are still two more races to go this year, but our minds are already set on preparation for the next one. We have so many ideas and plans what to do, how to improve and how to expand. And who knows, there might be even more exciting stuff coming for our fans around the world later. But for now, I am enjoying what is going on and I am very excited to see what the future holds for us!