Zak Brown hails ‘mega’ season as McLaren clinch Esports double

Sam Cooper
McLaren CEO Zak Brown. Spa August 2022.

Zak Brown smiles while walking through the paddock. Belgium August 2022.

Zak Brown hailed a “mega” season as McLaren earned their first Constructors’ title in the F1 Esports Series Pro Championship.

While it was a largely trophyless season for the Formula 1 team, Lando Norris’ third-place silverware at Imola being the only addition to the McLaren Technology Centre’s sizeable trophy cabinet, McLaren have done the double in the F1 Esports Series Pro Championship.

The McLaren Shadow drivers entered into the final race with the team’s Lucas Blakeley one of five drivers aiming to secure the Drivers’ Championship with victory at Abu Dhabi.

The Scotsman was unable to earn the win or even a podium place but his P4 finish was enough to give him the title over Red Bull’s Frederik Rasmussen.

Blakeley’s efforts alongside team-mate Bardia Boroumand also gave McLaren their first Constructors’ title with a 129-point win over two-time champions Red Bull.

McLaren CEO Zak Brown celebrated with a post on LinkedIn in which he described the result as mega.

“Yeah!!! McLaren Shadow are our 2022 F1 Esports Constructors’ Champions! MEGA!” the American said.

It is the first time McLaren have won the title with both Red Bull and Mercedes being the most successful constructor on two titles each.

F1 esports has existed since 2017 but built up steam during the COVID pandemic when real life F1 drivers were forced to swap the track for the simulator. Since then, it has grown in popularity with every F1 team now having an official esports outfit.

Mercedes’ Brendon Leigh won the first two iterations of the tournament although the Constructors’ Championship was not awarded in the sport’s debut season in 2017.

Jarno Opmeer is the joint most successful driver alongside Leigh having won the title in 2020 with Alfa Romeo and again in 2021 with Mercedes.

During the start of the 2020 season when drivers were unable to take to the actual track due to the COVID pandemic, F1 ran a Virtual Grand Prix series which consisted of seven races at Bahrain, Australia, Brazil, Spain, Monaco, Azerbaijan and Canada.

Zhou Guanyu won the inaugural event while George Russell’s 146 points earning him the unofficial crown. Charles Leclerc and Alex Albon also won races.

McLaren’s venture into esports is another example of the team’s effort to race in multiple series across the globe. As well as their F1 and esports teams, McLaren also compete in IndyCar, Extreme E and will join the Formula E grid in 2023 having purchased Mercedes’ EQ team.

Read more: Lando Norris reacts to being McLaren’s ‘old guy’ after Oscar Piastri arrival