All the F1 champions of the last thirty years have come up through the ranks from karting, but as the cost of competing moves further out of reach of many, eSports is beginning to emerge as a funnel for the next generation of drivers.
F1 had a successful roll out of its eSports programme in 2017, while McLaren also scouted talent through their Worlds Fastest Gamer competition, which landed the winner Rudy van Buren a role as official simulator driver.
In a new video from the Safe is Fast series, McLaren boss Zak Brown says that he now sees eSports as the next way for aspiring, young drivers to get into motorsport.
“I think eSports is now going to be the grassroots form of motor racing,” says Brown. “Simulation is a good inexpensive way relative to other forms of motor racing to look at driver talent.”
Getting to Formula 1 is the ultimate goal for young drivers, but what do the teams look for?
Brown says he looks for raw speed in a driver over race craft. “You can teach some race craft, but it’s hard to coach speed in a driver – either they have it or they don’t.”
He also revealed that McLaren starts to look for future drivers in Formula 3, just like they did with test and reserve driver Lando Norris.
“We definitely have people on our race team paying attention to the different junior formulas,” says Brown. “We don’t get drivers too young because we want to see them develop, but at Formula 3 we start deciding who we want to get on the McLaren payroll.”
The last film in the Safe is Fast series featured Fernando Alonso giving advice to young drivers, which had fantastic take up on the JA on F1 platform and lots of feedback from fans.
What do you think about Zak Brown’s advice? Which one is the most valuable? Leave your comments in the section below