McLaren Launches New ESports Programme Titled ‘McLaren Shadow Project’


McLaren Shadow Project - McLaren F1 Team
Credit: McLaren F1 Team

McLaren F1 Team launches a new Esports programme titled ‘McLaren Shadow Project’, following up from the success of the ‘World’s Fastest Gamer’.

Last year saw Rudy van Buren, a sales manager from the Netherlands, win the inaugural ‘World’s Fastest Gamer’ programme launched by McLaren and is now the team’s official simulator driver.

Rudy was in person for the launch of the MCL33, McLaren’s 2018 F1 car, and competed in the Race of Champions in Saudi Arabia, beating the likes of Joel Eriksson, Timo Bernhard and McLaren’s reserve driver Lando Norris.

McLaren are now expanding with the ‘McLaren Shadow Project’, a next phase of McLaren’s Esports programme. Qualification for the programme starts in August and runs through until October and players can enter through Xbox One, PC and Mobile and on racing titles such as Real Racing 3, Forza Motorsport 7, iRacing and Rfactor 2.

The winner of the contest will earn a seat in McLaren’s F1 Esports Team, McLaren Shadow, and will join their esports development programme, using their skills to work with the McLaren F1 Team.

Ben Payne, McLaren Director of ESports, believes that last year’s competition was just the start of a connection between esports and real world racing.

“Last year’s competition proved that the skills learned as a racing gamer are transferable to the real world.” said Payne.

“This is unique to the racing genre. We believe that esports and real world racing have much to learn and give to each other and last year’s competition was just the start.”  

Payne explains more about the McLaren Shadow Project, saying that new competition will be the most open esports contest there is on the market.

“McLaren Shadow Project will be the most open and inclusive racing esports competition on the planet. We are looking for the most talented virtual racers from all countries and backgrounds. To make this possible we have partnered with the biggest racing game brands in the world – Real Racing™ 3 on mobile, Forza Motorsport on Xbox, PC racing sims iRacing and rFactor 2.

“For McLaren, the inclusion of more casual games such as Real Racing™ 3 is crucial. Last year’s finalist Henrik Drue, a surgeon from Denmark, reached the finals despite never having played a racing game on console or PC. He went on to out-perform most of the other finalists in the rigorous cognitive tests set by the McLaren team and more than held his own on the track.”

McLaren CEO Zak Brown says he hopes the new competition presented in esports will help McLaren become an important brand within the esports community.

“Season one proved that esports are a new talent frontier for motorsport and after pioneering the programme in 2017, McLaren plans to develop the concept to generate greater global reach and engagement in season two.” said Brown.

“A strong, diverse esports programme has a direct benefit to McLaren’s innovative ambitions, bringing in new audiences, partners and talent to motorsport. By ramping up over multiple platforms across the online world, it will establish McLaren as an important brand in the motorsport esports community.”

Qualification commences in August with the finals set to take place in January 2019.