McLaren F1 announces new esports initiative with four sponsors on board


Formula 1 team McLaren F1 has announced the launch of its new esports programme, McLaren Shadow Project, in search for the brightest and the best racing talent in esports.

The McLaren Shadow Project, which serves as a follow-up to McLaren’s 2018 contest World’s Fastest Gamer, will see the winner get the opportunity to be the part of Formula One esports team.

McLaren has also announced two new sponsors for the programme – HTC Vive and Alienware have come on board. Last year’s official sponsors Logitech G and Sparco have extended their deal for the McLaren Shadow Project.

Players can enter McLaren Shadow project via a variety of gaming formats including PC, Xbox One, and mobile (iOS and Android), via the best racing games titles, including Forza Motorsport, Real Racing 3, iRacing and rFactor 2.

“The introduction of these new platforms and games opens up the competition to all racing gamers (not just sim racers). The competition is structured to bring the most diverse pool of racers into the semi-finals, allowing us to identify raw talent from anywhere in the world on any platform,” states the official note from McLaren F1.

The winner of the McLaren Shadow Project championship will be inducted in McLaren F1’s esports team along with an opportunity to join their esports development programme, to hone their skills and work with the McLaren F1 team.

They will also win a truly unique motorsport experience, including attendance to F1 races, exclusive behind the scenes access to McLaren and a host of physical prizes such as gaming and race kit.

“World’s Fastest Gamer was the name of our esports programme in year one (in partnership with Ideas+Cars). Shadow Project is a brand new programme for Season 2 entirely owned by McLaren. Our new esports programme will shadow our real-world racing equivalent.”

The online heats are open worldwide to all racing gamers over the age of 18+. McLaren is also running on-the-ground events in China, Latin America and the Middle East with our partners. The broad range of games and platforms mean this competition is open to anyone, whether they game on mobile, console, PC or VR.

Qualifiers start in August and run through to the end of October. “More details on these qualifiers will be released in the coming weeks, including race format, scoring mechanic, which McLaren car you’ll be driving and which track you’ll be competing on.”

The winners of those qualifiers on mobile and home console will make it through to live semi-final at the McLaren Technology Centre in November. The winners of the semi-finals will come back to McLaren in January to compete against the best sim-racers to win the ultimate prize in racing esports.

“In World’s Fastest Gamer the simulator was the star,” McLaren director of esports Ban Payne told Autosport. “The Shadow Project has broadened the entire programme out, so there are more ways to get involved. The end output of it is we’ll have an additional talent for our esports team, and more people to bring into our eSports development programme across McLaren as a group.”

Zak Brown, chief executive of McLaren, added, “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.”

 Last year’s World’s Fastest Gamer contest was won by 26-year-old online gamer Rudy van Buren from the Netherlands, who successfully fought off competition from 30,000 other applicants across 78 countries.

Van Buren went on to beat Lando Norris, Joel Eriksson and Timo Bernhard in the heats of the Race of Champions esports event in Saudi Arabia.