Arguably virtual racing, E-sports, is becoming more and more like the real thing by the year. With wheels that have realistic force-feedback, chairs that simulate G-forces and screens with up to 200hz refresh rate.
But is it actually possible to go directly from being an E-Sports virtual race driver to an actual Formula 1 team?
“Can’t believe I went from a full-time @Twitch streamer to third youngest ever F1 podium finisher in a matter of days,” Tweeted Lando Norris the morning after the sensational day before.
The Brittish driver was one of the stars of lockdown, opening the door to inside his life for fans via social media throughout and boosting his already burgeoning legion of support.Formula 1
Of course McLaren driver Lando norris was only an E-Sports racer temporarily due to the Covid-19 lockdown, who is now back to the real deal.
Going straight from virtual racing to a real team is unprecedented in Formula 1 but not in motor-sports overall. Believe it or or not Jann Mardenborough was recruited to be a real driver in the French 24h Le Mans in 2011.
He won the Nissan PlayStation GT Academy competition on PS3, earning his chance to take part in professional racing. After some qualifying sessions with other winners he was recruited by Nissan.
He then went on to finish on the podium at the Le Mans 24 Hours 2014 and as runner-up in the Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand.
“The transition from videogame to real-life driving wasn’t that difficult“
The controls and physics engines in games these days are crazy, they take real-life data from cars and then put them into code so that the way that the car pitches and brakes and the steering input works very well in racing games.
Of course you feel the G-force which you don’t in the game, but you’re so tightly strapped into the seat, that it’s not really an issue.Jann Mardenborough
That was back in 2011 when things were significantly less realistic than today. With the steady trend of F1 teams recruiting younger and younger drivers, is it possible we will eventually see a Formula 1 E-Sports champion recruited into a real Formula One team?
Considering they have their youth programmes from which most young drivers are recruited into F2 and eventually F1 I’m inclined to say it’s only a matter of time!