F1® Mobile Racing Esports Champion: Q&A
The inaugural F1® Mobile Racing Esports Championship recently came to its conclusion – a thrilling contest over several months, won by Italian player Matteo Pagliani. After his victory, we caught up with Matteo to get his thoughts on the championship, find out more about him, and see how he plans to use his once-in-a-lifetime prize…
Q: Can you tell us about yourself?
My name is Matteo – I’m 21 and I live in Italy. I live near Maranello, which is of course the city of the Ferrari factory. I study computer engineering at the university in Modena. In my free time I play the drums. I have a band but, of course, due to the pandemic we are stuck at the moment – we don’t play so much. I love riding my bike in my free time and going out with friends.
I am very passionate about F1, and also about space and astronomy. We have just landed on Mars with the NASA Perseverance rover, so I’m very excited about the achievement.
Q: How long have you been playing F1® Mobile Racing? How long have you been competing in Esports Events? When did you realise you had what it took to win the Esports Tournament?
I started playing in December 2019 and joined the Esports events some months later. At first, I was a mid-field player and I had to develop my car. I became sort of competitive six months after the start.
I started practicing more when the tournament was announced and I saw that there would be a prize. I reached the maximum Level, which is Level 35, but my car was not maxed out, and my car is still developing. So it was a fast learning curve.
Q: How often do you play F1® Mobile Racing? Do you play on a daily basis? How long? What is your favourite game mode?
I play nearly two hours per day. Obviously, before the Finals I played more. Now with my exams I play less. But it’s good to play because I can switch my mind off, I can relax a bit, and as I said before I’m very passionate about F1 so it’s good to play that game. My favourite game mode is the Events because it’s more challenging than the Duels mode.
Q: Can you tell us about your setup for F1® Mobile Racing? What device do you play on? What are your R&D decks like? Do you use any assists? Which control scheme and camera view do you prefer to use in races?
I’m playing on an Oppo RealmeX2. With my setup, the cards and the setup are not maxed out. For example, I have the Legendary Lightweight card at Level 3, not 4. I think that’s quite a disadvantage because the Lightweight card at Level 4 gets you half a second, or even a second of margin compared to Level 3. So I have a little bit margin to improve.
I don’t use any assists, I use maximum sensitivity, and I play in tilt mode. My preferred camera view is the camera over the driver’s head.
Q: Do you have any advice or recommendations for those who’d like to improve their driving in F1® Mobile Racing?
I think practice and consistency are key. With real F1, for example, if you think about Lewis Hamilton – he is a very consistent driver. In the game it’s similar, so you have to be very, very consistent. You have to practice a lot. Of course, if you disable all the assists you should go faster, but it’s a gradual process. You can’t disable all of them when you start the game because it would be so hard.
Then I recommend learning the tracks by heart. The key point is to discover all the limits of the tracks, to find the kerbs you can go over and where the penalties are. It’s also quite important to maximise Lightweight because that gives you good drivability, good speed, good acceleration and so on.
Q: When we revealed the Esports Event, did you think that you’d have a chance of winning the tournament? Were you already aiming for first place?
No, I didn’t think I had a chance to win, but I started practicing more and more. I developed my car and just before the event I told myself “Well, let’s try – it’s not important where you finish but let’s try” and I gave my best. I gave it my all. When the Finals started, I was watching my name in the first three positions all the time so I was confident. But at that point, I still didn’t think I could win – and then I won, so… (laughs). As I said before, it’s important to be consistent, and that makes the difference.
Q: On social media, we saw a picture of one of the Finalists meditating before the start of the Grand Final and many players told us that the competition during 2 hours had been very intense. Were you nervous before or during the Grand Final? You lost a Duel 20 minutes before the end of the event and that was the only Duel that you lost. What was your mindset like during that race? Did you think that you might not win the tournament?
Yes, I was very nervous because the tension was very high. You had to be very focused all the time. Two hours is a long period and you have to be very, very focused. Your eyes become more and more tired and so at the end of the two hours, it was like, ‘phew!’ my eyes were crying (laughs).
I was very nervous and when I lost a single Duel I thought “That’s it. I lost the chance to win the finals,” So the tension grew more. I didn’t give up and I continued to push, but yes – I was very nervous.
Q: You said that you were a fan of F1 in real life. Do you have a favourite F1 team?
My favourite F1 team is, of course, Ferrari (laughs). I’m very passionate about the brand, about Ferrari’s legacy – they have such a history. Also, my grandparents used to watch F1. My grandfather went to a Grand Prix, I think in Imola in 1987, and he took some pictures of the cars on the grid. There was Senna in pole. There were Berger and Alboreto driving for Ferrari. The passion for this team is very present in the Italian culture. Even people who don’t watch F1 know Ferrari and know their history.
I usually watch all the sessions from Friday to Sunday and I usually watch the press conferences. I’m quite interested also in the engineering aspect of the F1 because they are related to what I study. Now that I’ve won the paddock pass for a Grand Prix, it’s fantastic to go to a Grand Prix weekend but I’m very curious about discovering what the life in the paddock is, what the teams do and the entire process.
Q: Which drivers will you be cheering on in the 2021 season?
I appreciate Sebastian Vettel because I think he is a great person, a humble person, so I will root for him. I’m very curious about what Aston Martin can do in this season, then obviously Charles and Carlos for Ferrari. I think I will also support Mick Schumacher, because of his father Michael, who I grew up watching in the TV.
Q: As a reward for your victory in the Esports Tournament, you will be attending a Grand Prix Event for the 2021 Season with paddock pass. Have you decided which GP you would like to get to see? Is there a reason for choosing this specific GP?
It’s been a difficult decision to pick one of the GPs. I would have liked to pick all of them! But I had to make also some considerations about the pandemic. I have looked at Singapore and thought it would have been great to go to a city – a beautiful city, not only to a beautiful track but also to a beautiful city. So, I chose Singapore because of the city. It has always provided good races because it’s a street circuit so there are often some safety cars, incidents and so on. It will be very nice to go there.
The F1 team asked me to provide three choices, and my second choice was Abu Dhabi. The third choice is Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, so I could potentially go to another European country.
At the moment, I couldn’t go to Singapore because the borders are closed. I hope that the situation will improve in summer. Let’s hope and keep our fingers crossed.
F1® Mobile Racing is available to play now for free on iOS and Android. Take on the world in PvP Duels, win big rewards in live GP Events, and look out for more big news and events in the coming weeks!