Verge Meets: Lando Norris – Mclaren F1


This week Verge Magazine had the privilege to catch up with McLaren F1 Driver as well as Esports enthusiast, Lando Norris. We discussed the season, Esports and the Logitech G challenge…

From early July, gamers around the world will be able to enter qualifiers via mobile, PC, and console on the respective titles – Real Racing 3, rfactor 2 and Forza Motorsport 7 – as well as via multiple rounds of the Logitech G Challenge around the world.

Winners from each qualifier will be invited to the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, UK, in early December for the grand finals. As well as gameplay, finalists will be put through their paces in a programme that truly shadows McLaren’s real world. They will be put through the same tests an F1 driver faces by the Human Performance division of McLaren Applied Technologies, and even get out onto a real-world track behind the wheel of a McLaren Automotive supercar.

The prize offers winners once in a lifetime experiences and prizes including a seat on the McLaren Shadow esports team and access to the McLaren DNA driver development programme. In addition to going racing with McLaren, the champion will have a custom sim-racing setup installed in their home with help from McLaren Shadow Project partners, Logitech G and Alienware.

Shadow is the most inclusive and diverse esports racing competition on the planet. We’ve said before that the transference of skills between virtual and real racing is both direct and profound.


Paul: How are ya doing?

Lando: I’m very good thanks, how are you?


Paul: That’s good to hear. So first, I want to ask how your first season has been going, you’re about halfway through. How do you feel about it? How have you been enjoying it?

Lando: I’ve been enjoying it a lot, It’s pretty insane, it’s been busy. I get to drive an F1 car in different countries and been having fun doing what I love. I’ve been loving it, it’s not been easy, going up against the 19 other drivers from around the world, pretty much the best drivers in the world. So, it’s tough and what we’ve been building up to through different categories to get to and achieve too. But it’s been going good. It’s my first season, so all the things for me to learn but at the same time I’ve achieved some pretty cool things so far.


Paul: That’s a fantastic thing, so for those who are unfamiliar with McLaren in the Esports realm, how do you feel like they’ve influenced and helped you? And how do you feel they’ve influenced the world of Esports as a whole?

Lando: I think, starting with me, I was already heavily involved with Esports, and I’ve loved doing it even before joining McLaren. So it was a good thing they were already on the verge of building into Esports. I’m obviously here for tonight, so involved with a lot of the programs and events, such as McLaren Shadow F1 Esports. So from my side, I wasn’t like they put me in it, I was already massively involved with it. They’re pretty much the only team to have their people-focused solely on Esports itself. They have their own drivers, whom I know and get along with very well. They have their own competition, McLaren Shadow. They have by far the biggest audience and get together the best drivers around the world. Trying to find 1 or 2 or 3 may be of the best guys around the world. Then I get to see them coming through all the steps the ladders the challenges and eventually drive a real car.


Paul: I see, so you’d consider yourself a bit of a gamer yourself, yeah?

Lando: Mhm, I’d say so


Paul: (chuckles) so, how do you feel competitive racing fits amongst the giants of Esports, with DOTA, League of Legends, Street Fighter, Super Smash Brothers. And how do you think something like Shadow project can affect the whole landscape of esports and competitive gaming?

Lando: Well it’s something that’s getting much bigger, I think it’s not just from McLaren’s side of things, but the whole world of driving and esports is getting much better because it’s not just as simple as having a PC and playing on a mouse and keyboard. You need a simulator to show your driving skills. So it’s not as easy to get into and that’s why I think the platform is much smaller at the moment than it is competitive DOTA or League of Legends and so on. Its something McLaren is trying to push, and not just McLaren but a lot of people such as F1 esports as well, trying to push into that boundary, that side of esports, which is pretty cool because there are a lot of drivers who don’t get the chance to go into cars straight away, because they can’t afford or can’t get into carting or they don’t know about it. And esports, from the driving side of things, allow people to try different driving games and enter these competitions to such as McLaren Shadow to get the chance to maybe go up against me and go up against other drivers and prove their point that they have what it takes.


Paul: And then there are the obvious differences between driving in a real car and the virtual, it’s a totally different world but how do you, whos apart of both worlds, compares getting behind a real-world and getting behind something like that (pointing to virtual driving simulator setup)?

Lando: It’s still got its differences, the main ones being g-force, fear factor, and cost. I think those three things are very big but at the same time, what we’ve seen some from some drivers who’ve already gone from driving a sim to driving a real car, they could be pretty damn good. Because of the skills from driving such as it sounds simple but it’s not, pressing pedals, throttle, brake, turning the steering wheel, but putting a whole combination of those things together. Developing a setup, pushing the team around you; all of those things you already start doing on a simulator. And when you put one of those drivers, who can do very well in the sim, their skills translate very easily.


Paul: So in all competitive things, whether its sports or esports or just being a competitor, you need to relax or hyped. Is there something you do whether it’s listening to music or reading or anything like that? Some pro athletes have pre-game and post-game playlists, do you have anything like that?

Lando: Not really (laughing).


Paul: Really? Nothing at all?

Lando: Not really, I mean I don’t mind listening to music sometimes but it’s not something I have to do. There’s nothing I have to do. I obviously do a bit of a warm-up because it’s a bit more physical than other types of racing and esports. But there’s nothing I really do to get hyped up, I just get hyped enough from knowing I’m going to be driving a car.


Paul: That’s true, it’s a car.

Lando: (laughing): It is, yeah. But there’s nothing superstitious to say or anything I have to do to get ready.


Paul: Your routine’s more physical than something mental?

Lando: Yep.


Paul: So it was an absolute pleasure with you Lando, thank you so much.

Lando: My pleasure.

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