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Cannes 2019 esports

McLaren and the future of esports

Can a future F1 driver be found thanks to racing games?

In 2017, McLaren became the first team in Formula 1 to launch an esports competition, and this week we've been in Cannes with WPP to discuss our ground-breaking project with a group of thought leaders from technology and media sectors.

We recently announced the latest chapter for 2019 in our esports initiative — McLaren Shadow Project season 2 — with the ambition to be the biggest, most open and diverse racing esports programme on the planet. We believe the transfer of skills between virtual and real racing is direct, profound and unique within racing esports and gaming.

To provide insight into McLaren thinking on the topic, we introduced Lando Norris, the McLaren F1 driver, and Enzo Bonito, the McLaren esports driver, to the assembled audience on an island off the French Riviera.

Lando spoke of his love for gaming, as one of the younger generation of drivers who actively and deliberately hone their skills in the virtual world. In fact, in his rookie year as a Formula 1 driver, it’s safe to say he’s done many more virtual than real laps of famous tracks on the F1 calendar.

Enzo meanwhile, explained how he has gone from winning prestigious esports competitions to real-world racing in single-seaters.

The drivers discussed their friendship and mutual admiration, which has grown thanks to challenging each other and other F1 drivers including Max Verstappen, online. And that mutual admiration between the pair was clear for all to see as they fought to set the fastest lap-time on a gaming sled, while CMOs from across industries eagerly awaited their turn behind the wheel.

If the conversations in Cannes proved one thing, it’s that the transfer of skills between the real and the virtual is already happening and that a racing star could one day be found through esports and the McLaren Shadow Project.

Find out more about our esports programme at: