Jann Mardenborough and Red Bull Racing
Red Bull Racing
Posted By: Justin Hynes  |  17 Feb 2014   |  9:00 pm GMT  |  69 comments

Jann Mardenborough, the video gamer who graduated from console racing to Le Mans racing and F3 competition, has been signed to drive for Christian Horner’s Arden International Team in this year’s GP3 championship. He has also secured access to Red Bull Racing’s driver development facilities.

The 22-year-old driver graduated to professional racing by winning GT Academy, a competition organised by Nissan and Sony that saw gamers compete on the Gran Turismo video game in pursuit of a real-world drive. Mardenborough won the 2011 edition beating out some 90,000 other entrants.

Since then he has competed in GT cars, Le Mans Prototypes and single-seaters, his most recent efforts earning him the runner-up spot in the New Zealand-based TRS single-seater championship. He also finished third in the LMP2 class at Le Mans last year.

Apart from competing in GP3, Mardenborough will gain access to Red Bull Racing’s driver development tools including time in the simulator. He hasn’t, however, been signed to Red Bull’s Junior Team development programme, which this year has slimmed down its roster to just three drivers: Spain’s Carlos Sainz Jnr, Briton’s Alex Lynn and French racer Pierre Gasly.

“I feel ready for GP3,” said Mardenborough of the challenge ahead. “I’ve prepared well and I have all the right people around me to help my development so I can fully focus on my racing. Formula 3 has taught me so many things, both in the car and out of the car, both mentally and physically. It was a great stage in my development and I’m sure the skills I’ve learnt there will help me in GP3 and beyond. I’m excited to work with Arden. My initial impressions of them are excellent; they have a lot of experience and great success over the years. I’m looking forward to working with my race engineer Sean (McGill).

“I haven’t raced the GP3 car yet,” he added. “But going on initial testing, I prefer the GP3 car to an F3 car. The power is very addictive! This season is my opportunity to impress more people in the sport who make the decisions on who makes it into F1 and who doesn’t and I’m going to give it my best shot.”

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If you’re 6’5″ and 350 lbs., I don’t think it’ll matter how well you do in the game. There’s only a finite amount of skills in the game that apply to reality.


Perhaps Nissan will run their competition again though make it girls only. There must be many young and talented female gamers out there, some of whom may already manifest their racing talent through go-karting and the like. Yeah, I’m thinking of the recent article on Simona De Silvestro.


He can probably do a better job then Vettel… after all he is better at pushing buttons…


Ahhh, but how good is he at pointing his finger?


Anyone who’s followed Jann will know that he’s looked mighty in GTs but quite average in single seaters – a handful of points in Euro F3 last year, a few podiums but no wins in a quite weak British F3 field, and only 2nd in the Toyota Racing Series when he was one of the most experienced competing. I can’t help but think he keeps getting these breaks because of his great story rather than genuine talent in single seaters.


I just learnt his dad used to be a footballer (not for any great team though), so sports (good reflexes) could run in the family.



Hang on? He won a game competition.

He didn’t even race in a real car.

You don’t experience anything real in a sim. no bumps, no g-force, no-imperfection on roads, no mech failure.. You get the idea? It is not real!

It’s like Neo can be superman in the Matrix and beat up countless of agents but in the real world he is just another man with no muscle tissue.


There are plenty of bumps and road imperfections in GT… Have you ever driven on that game with a decent force feedback wheel\pedal setup?

If not then your opinion doesn’t mean anything and if you have you were most likely pootling around too slowly to notice the realism.

Don’t get me wrong, racing sims aren’t the real thing but if you know how to drive quick on a sim then chances are you can apply that to real world driving…


Yes I have driven many force feedback steering but they are nothing compared to the real impact of from g-forces. What I meant is the g loads on drivers body.

Even on a gokart, you can feel 10000x more impact than a simulator.


You’re definitely right about g-force but the actual driving technique is the same… I posted further up regarding my first hand experience with both virtual and real racing – I’m not the quickest by any stretch of the imagination but I am about the same distance from the top guys on GT with a wheel as I am in a real kart on a real track.


I think what Jimbob is saying is that a simulator can help you develop your skills as a driver, which is why real race drivers use them – except the ones they use are just a tad more advanced and expensive than the ones we have at home.

G-Force is something that is very difficult (probably even impossible) to simulate realistically, but you can get a feel for the way a car will handle, but what is probably more of a benefit than anything for your average driver is how to handle one when you lose control – many new drivers would slam on the brakes and jerk the wheel, while a more experienced driver would try to go with it a bit and ease it back to where they want it (always dependent on the circumstances).

But you are also right – no simulator is a substitute for the real thing.


Dude, read the story again. The boy is pretty handy in a real race car too.


I did read the story and nothing impressive came out in terms of real racing records. yes, he got famous then got a chance to drive in real racing cars with little notable results. Anyone can drive average if given the opportunities. Very few can be stand outs and even fewer brilliant at it.


You seriously think he is an average driver? Hmmmmmm!


So this kid has no Kart racing under his belt?

This is where you learn your bread and butter, in Karts.

Alexander Supertramp

I read he was in karts from age 9 to 12, then the circuit closed and he didn’t have the money to continue karting..


Congrats to Jann, but he’s just lucky that I didn’t enter the GT Academy. Imagine the headline: Arden signs 56 year-old to GP3 drive!


There is now a new class of driver sitting at home in front of racing games. GT Academy proves that there are a lot of very fast drivers in the gaming community that do not have the means to go racing themselves in real life. I hope this is the first of many to come through that route.

Best of luck to Jann!


This is a really interesting way to “find” a new race driver (at whatever level)

Whether it has success or not only time will tell but I find this quite exciting.


I love this. I have been a big Gran Turismo fan since the first edition. I’m usually in the top 20 in my country and 200-250 internationally in GT academy.


I’m pretty damn good on a video game myself, but I’ll admit that, when I raced powerful karts a few years back, I was taken aback by the sheer physicality involved, and how much that limits your mental capacity. That was a bit of an eye-opener, and it turned out I wasn’t quite as good in the real world as I had expected to be… Stepping from video games to real racing machinery is a pretty impressive feat, and for Jann to do such a good job at this stage of his career is quite incredible! Best of luck to him, I say. I shall be watching GP3 this year with great interest…



I race karts and race on GT… In the rental karts I’m around a 1-1.5 seconds off the lap record at just about every track I’ve ever driven a rental on and that’s quite a few. Guess how far I am off the top guys on GT? About a second.

That tells me a couple of things, 1) I am not pro racer material and 2) Provided you have the strength\fitness to drive in reality as you do in the game you’ll be close. After all, it’s all about lines, braking points and holding the car on the limit whether in reality or virtual and racing sims are pretty damn good these days.

In fact, I’d only driven properly in anger with a wheel on GT4\GT5 before starting to race karts and I was immediately on the pace I drive at now, other than being more consistent I’ve hardly improved my speed at all – Seems I found my limit on the game before getting in a kart.


Gaming is the future of racing as are the simulators therefore you would expect the cross over to real racing to be simple. I’m sure there are some 120kg experts on the internet which puts them out of top class racing but it takes a lot of finesse to be ultra quick on a console and a simulator. Yet another avenue for racers with small budgets.

And hats off to Nissan for making this possible


Driving games with convincing physics have been around for a long time, now, so it’s only a matter of time before the majority of race drivers hone their skills from an early age in the living room.



That’s why this man’s succees will indeed be quite symbolic in the history of the sport.


Perhaps the emerging generation of F1 drivers already has………….


Good luck to him. This is a superb opportunity.


Wow, that’s pretty impressive. Clearly the guy has some talent. What a story if he eventually makes it to F1!


James – Did he have any real racing experience before being plucked out of cyber world?

Plus, wasn’t one of Perez’s criticisms that too much focus was placed on the simulator which led to his replacement?


No. I met him last year and he had not raced


Surely James the article suggests different, he has raced as per the article and been reasonably successful.


Right. I think what James means is that when he met Jann last year, Jann said that he had not raced (cars) before the GT Academy.


I believe Jann had done some karting when very young but then stopped. When he won the GT Academy he graduated to a real race seat and has had some success, but prior to the competition he had not raced.


Let me be first of JM’s fellow GT racers to congratulate him on this next step towards F1 stardom and success. Winning GT Academy is not easy, and I should know; I’m one of the 90,000 he beat…


I thought the GP3 team was MW Arden and was joint-owned by Horner and Webber.

Has Webber now departed the scene ?


Isn’t it owned by Christian Horner?


Yes – Webber has split from Arden’s GP3 operation. He was never associated with the GP2 team.


I think that’s the GP2 team name. I’m not 100%


While I don’t believe that 22 yr olds actually talk like a PR handler, I hope he rocks ’em!


when I first heard of jann, i thought it wasn’t possible for him to get into professional racing until i saw him in the le man car. the guy is awesome! he had 2 other more experienced teammates and he was faster than both of them. it was also impressive to see how johnny herbert was impress by jann in the gt competition.

i hope he makes it into f1. his story is even more remarkable than hamilton’s.


Great info. And I will search for youtube videos of Jann at Le Mans.


Fantastic story! I hope he does well.

There’s a good article about how he met Jonny Herbert here:



Good for him. If he possesses the fearlessness that is an essential part of a racers make-up he may do well.

It”ll be interesting to see how he gets on against those who could afford the traditional routes i.e carting over the season.

Could this be the future of recruiting drivers of the future?

Considering the lack of testing allowed it could well be.


What do you think of this news James? Is it a good thing for Motorsport? How do you think he will do in GP3?


Don’t expect too much from him this year. It is still only his second season of single seater racing. To be in a GP3 car already is a huge accomplishment and if he can run mid-pack that would be a great achievement considering he’s up against vastly more experienced racers, and it’s a competitive series on top of that.


I always wondered what happened to the winners of these competitions.

Glad to see someone actually make it into a real race seat.


They tend to be racing for the most part actually.


So you haven’t heard of Lucas Ordonez either then?


Its not hard to find out, most are Nissan drivers in GT/Sportscar racing. I think the second winner Jordan Tresson is the only one thats not racing anymore.


He’s not the first one – look up Lucas Ordóñez 🙂


Lucas Ordonez, who won the competition before Jann, does a pretty good job at Le Mans and in GT racing.


Jann Mardenborough if you read this firstly congratulations an secondly keep living the dream!


a very strong message. I like!

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