Lando Norris Says Gaming And eSports Played ‘Significant’ Role On Road To F1

by Aaron Gillard
Atyaf e-Racing Lando Norris

Lando Norris has said gaming and eSports have played a ‘significant’ role in his journey to Formula 1, where he’ll race next year with the McLaren F1 Team.

Regarded as one of the brightest stars in British Motorsport, Norris will kick start a new era at McLaren as a fresh line up will see Norris partner alongside Carlos Sainz Jr. for the 2019 Formula 1 Season.

Norris has been successful in his climb to Formula 1, winning multiple junior categories in his climb through the ranks.

The eighteen year old said it feels awesome to achieve his dream of reaching the sport and to be making his debut with McLaren for 2019.

“It feels awesome to achieve my dream of reaching F1 and to be making my debut with McLaren just makes it feel even more rewarding,” said Norris.

“I was a big supporter of McLaren as a kid growing up, so it is a true honour to be competing with one of the most iconic names in the sport and following in the footsteps of numerous legendary racing superstars.

“To now be part of this prestigious category is has always been my objective so to now be officially signed and preparing for my F1 debut in Australia next season, is an incredible feeling.” 

Alongside Norris’ journey to F1, the Brit also took part in online racing at home as a way to improve his skills on the track. Norris says that gaming has played a role in his journey to becoming an F1 driver.

“Without a doubt, gaming has played a significant role on my journey to F1 and it is an area I put a lot of effort into perfecting alongside my racing duties,” added Norris.

“Not only do I use gaming and simulations to hone my skills in the cockpit, I do it for fun and really enjoy competing against friends and professionals.

“I had a sim at home when I was younger and it proved invaluable in developing my race craft so although it isn’t “reality”, esports has nonetheless made a huge contribution to the reality of me reaching the highest levels of motorsport.”

McLaren and Formula 1 have launched their own respected eSports series, with the Woking based team setting up a worldwide, titled the McLaren Shadow Project. They also have set their own eSports team for the 2018 F1 eSports Series, entered as McLaren Shadow.

Olli Pahkala, Enzo Bonito and Bono Huis will represent the team for the series as they’ll attempt to be crowned the F1 eSports champion. The series will commence on the 10th October.

The evolution of eSports have shown over the years with the interest of teams, series and organisations taking onboard the concept of sim racing, with Norris saying that eSports goes deeper into the technical side of the sport about how to set up your car and understanding date and telemetry.

“Esports isn’t just simply about the racing; the platform can go much deeper into the technical side of the sport, which is half of the battle.

“Beyond perfecting your driving ability, it is a great way to learn skills in setting up the car, working as a team player and understanding data to improve your performance. It’s a two-way process too in that I can use simulators to improve performance on the track, but then we use the track testing to ensure our sims are more accurate. 

“Unlike any other sport or gaming genre, the transference of skills between virtual and real racing are direct and is why McLaren launched the McLaren Shadow virtual racing programme this year. It shadows our on-track activity, in that the winner will win a seat in our new esports team that will go on to race against the best race teams around the world online, which will shadow our on-track efforts.”

(RIGHT TO LEFT) McLaren Shadow drivers Olli Pahkala, Enzo Bonito, Bono Huis and McLaren 2019 driver Lando Norris. Credit: Atyaf e-Racing/McLaren Shadow

The McLaren Shadow Project will allow gamers on various consoles and games to take part in, as well as opening the competition within the CGG region, after McLaren signed partnerships with Bahrain-based TIG Holdings and UK motorsport agency MPA Creative.

With the Middle East now opening up for gamers to compete in the McLaren Shadow Project and in the Atyaf e-Racing qualification, Norris believes that it could be a game changing for the region.

“A potentially game-changing one. For anyone that doesn’t have the opportunities or budgets readily available to them to forge a motorsport career at a young age, esports is a fantastic way for juniors and adults in the GCC region to develop and hone a vast number of versatile skills at a fraction of the cost.” added Norris

“McLaren really believes in this and launched the McLaren Shadow virtual racing programme this year to uncover the most talented, virtual racers from all countries and backgrounds. 

“A lot of gamers-turned-racers have proven to be extremely good in a real car, so I do believe there is a fantastic opportunity for anyone following this path to believe they can one day make it to the top of the sport.”

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