Norris expects surge of sim drivers into real racing

Jon Wilde
Lando Norris is interviewed in the paddock. Mexico November 2021.

Lando Norris speaks to the media ahead of the race weekend. Mexico November 2021.

Lando Norris thinks “more and more” eSports racers will find themselves with the opportunity to move into the real thing.

The McLaren driver is an experienced sim racer himself, having done plenty of that when the pandemic shut down Formula 1 action in the first half of 2020. He took part in the sport’s official Virtual Grand Prix series and has streamed himself sim racing on Twitch.

Although he pledged this winter to cut down on that activity, Norris recognises the chances that are starting to open up for the very best racers in the gaming world.

Recent examples are those of Cem Bolukbasi, an eSports graduate has secured a Formula 2 drive for this season, and Lucas Blakeley, who took part in the Race of Champions on the Swedish snow and ice and won a head-to-head contest against Sebastian Vettel.

Although Norris does not think Bolukbasi is the ideal example of a gamer who gets to live the dream of real-life racing, he does think such openings will increase for others in the future.

“I definitely think you will see more and more,” said the 22-year-old during an interview with GQ. “I think this is proof.

“I know Cem Bolukbasi reasonably well. I know he did a bit of racing before, so maybe it’s not the driver who has come from solely doing sim racing games to then going in the car.

“But you are seeing more and more of these people come [into eSports racing] from not being able to afford karting, which I think is why it’s so good and why so many people do it.

“It’s because of how expensive karting is nowadays. You get more and more drivers coming through from just doing sim racing at home or wherever who are then getting an opportunity to drive in GT cars or Formula 3 or Formula 2.

“So I think they will only continue to develop, and the chances of people going from sim racing to real racing will only go up and up, especially with games and simulation programs becoming more and more realistic. That will only get higher.”


In the same interview, Norris was asked where he was most excited to race in the forthcoming season.

“Miami,” he replied. “I think it will be crazy. Another race in America is always exciting, like COTA [Circuit of The Americas] was an amazing one last year. To do another one, especially in Miami…it’s just a cool place and cool circuit.

“I think it will be a bit of the vibe of Monaco, in a way. It obviously doesn’t have the historic part of Monaco, but there will be a similar essence I think with the celebrities wanting to be there and having this massive audience and fan base there as well.

“I think it will be a pretty awesome one. And it’s a new circuit as well, so that’s always a cool thing to look forward to.”


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