Gran Turismo World Series 2023 could bring back FIA partnership

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The first round of the 2022 Gran Turismo World Series esports tournament wrapped up last weekend. In a thrilling first round, Brazil’s Lucas Bonelli was crowned the winner of the Round 1 Nations Cup, while Subaru took victory in the Round 1 Manufacturers Cup.

Between 2018 and 2020, Gran Turismo’s flagship World Series esport tournament was officially sanctioned by the FIA. But players were puzzled when the FIA branding was mysteriously removed in Gran Turismo 7’s current World Series.

GT Sport was also the platform for the Digital Cup at the inaugural FIA Motorsport Games event in 2019. Going forward, however, Assestto Corsa Competizione will replace Gran Turismo at this year's FIA Motorsport Games at the Paul Ricard circuit this October

But this doesn’t mean the FIA’s relationship with Gran Turismo is over.

FIA pauses partnership with Gran Turismo

In an interview with Motorsport.com, FIA director of Formula E and Innovative Sport Activities Department Frederic Bertrand explained that the relationship between Gran Turismo and the FIA is temporarily on hold because of the game’s problems at launch.

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Gran Turismo World Series Finals
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The current Gran Turismo World Series tournament is not sanctioned by the FIA.

When GT7 launched in March, the online lobbies were notoriously unstable. It also took four months for Polyphony to add basic event settings in online lobbies like changing the track. Because of these issues, the FIA felt GT7 was not ready and decided to use Assetto Corsa for this year’s Motorsport Games event instead.

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“It's not ended,” Bertrand said when asked about the governing body’s relationship 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.”

Gran Turismo World Series 2023 could bring back FIA partnership

Bertrand added that the FIA is hoping to renew its partnership with Gran Turismo in early 2023 if enough improvements have been made to GT7.

Gran Turismo 7 World Series
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FIA could partner with Gran Turismo for the World Series 2023 - but only if GT7 improves.

According to Bertrand, the FIA will be assessing GT7 at weekend’s Salzburg event to see if it’s a viable platform for next year’s World Series. “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.”

But even if the partnership is renewed, it doesn’t sound like the FIA will work exclusively with Gran Turismo. Bertrand talks about a “non exclusive approach” and how “esports needs to be more open,” suggesting the FIA will endorse esports tournaments in other racing games like Assetto Corsa Competizione as well as Gran Turismo. But if the quality of GT7 improves, the FIA will “work with Gran Turismo on plenty of other projects.”