McLaren’s Lando Norris believes the skills that people develop through E-Sports is becoming increasingly transferable to real racing.
Simulators have long been a vital tool for Formula 1 teams, allowing drivers to familiarise themselves with a circuit virtually before even turning a wheel for real, as well as developing young drivers and gathering data.
The Formula 1 E-Sports Series is now also at an all-time high, and Norris himself is an avid gamer.
He spends a lot of his free time using his simulator at home or at the McLaren Technology Centre. He often streams his racing game sessions on Twitch, while alongside Red Bull’s Max Verstappen he is part of the Team RedLine E-Sports outfit.
Speaking in a video released by McLaren Shadow, McLaren’s official Esports team, Norris spoke of his gaming experiences as a young child.
“As far back as I can remember, I must of been four years old and my Dad use to have Gran Turismo 3 on a PlayStation 2, and that was the first time I started playing a racing game, really any type of game,” said Norris.
He also revealed how the simulators were his first taste of action against team-mate Carlos Sainz.
“It’s like the first time we properly started going against each other in driving. I’m quickest, obviously. No question,” Norris joked.
“But if I didn’t have someone like Carlos, someone that is good in the simulator, it’ll be not much of a positive for myself or for the team.
“A lot of things we do on the simulator correlate to real life, because you are able to pick up on these places where as a driver you are not as strong and already started working on them before you have even driven the track.”
Norris is a representative for McLaren Shadow and makes visits with the team at conferences and events such as the F1 E-Sports Series.
The McLaren Shadow Project is an E-Sports competition that allows gamers to compete in various racing titles to earn a place on the McLaren Shadow team.
Igor Fraga, who won the competition last year, used his background in racing and e-gaming to pursue a full-time racing career in the Formula Regional European Championship.
Norris expects a spike in interest for the second staging and predicts more people to follow Fraga’s path in the future.
“The amount of people who entered last year was pretty insane and its only gone and grown year to year,” the 19-year-old explained.
“There’s a lot of people in the world who are very good drivers, more often nowadays you have drivers who can go from a simulator into a real car and show the skills correlate very well.
“People like Rudy (Van Buren) and Igor (Fraga) have showed that you can do this kinda thing, and I think there’s plenty more people out there, a lot of people have a chance of winning it and going on to maybe even drive a real car.”