McLaren F1 driver and avid sim racer Lando Norris explains how using simulators and racing rigs can help prepare drivers for real-life racing and believes that more gamers can go from the simulators and transfer their skills to the race track.
The British driver is currently enjoying his rookie season in Formula 1, placing himself as the top rookie in his class with strong points finishes with McLaren. Norris sits eighth overall in the drivers’ championship behind team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr.
Outside of racing among the best drivers in the world, Norris spends most of his time behind his simulator at home, or at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking. The nineteen-year old enjoys racing competitively and playing racing games, often streaming his sessions on Twitch. Norris is also part of the Team RedLine Esports team alongside Red Bull Racing‘s Max Verstappen.
Norris is one of the first within the ‘Generation Z’ of drivers to have a background in both racing and competitive online competitions. In a video released by McLaren Shadow, McLaren’s official Esports team, Norris spoke about the first time he ever played a racing title when he was a 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.
With the restriction of testing in F1, teams have special simulators back in their factories to prepare, analyse and test updates prior to a Grand Prix weekend. Drivers often visit the factory before a race weekend to get log in extra practice and familiarise themselves to the track before turning a wheel with the real thing.
Norris explains how he and his team-mate Sainz get competitive whenever in the simulator and how it can be a handful tool when preparing to take the track in real-life.
“It’s like the first time we properly started going against each other in driving. I’m quickest, obviously. No question,” Norris said jokingly.
“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 s a driver you are not as strong and already started working on them before you even driven the track.
As well as being part of the McLaren F1 Team, Norris is also representative for McLaren Shadow, having made visits with the Esports team at conferences and events such as the F1 Esports Series.
The McLaren Shadow Project is an Esports competition that invites gamers to participate in various racing titles in a bid to become a member of the McLaren Shadow team. Last year’s winner Igor Fraga has a background in racing and competing within Esports, and has recently pursued a full-time career in Motorsport as a driver, racing in the Formula Regional European Championship.
With a second season set with the McLaren Shadow Project, Norris expects the number of entries to grow and believes that gamers nowadays are capable from going from the simulator rigs to racing on the track.
“The amount of people who entered last year was pretty insane and its only gone and grown year to year. 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.”