Yesterday, I posed the question as to whether Max Verstappen would regret not racing in the F1 Virtual GP. Verstappen and Lando Norris are teammates for online racing team, Team Redline, but Verstappen has no interest, for now, in plying his craft on a brand-new game – even if it is the official F1 2019 one. However, Lando Norris had no such qualms and this last week has seen his Twitch stream attract 106 thousand viewers, his clothing line go from strength to strength (selling the branded t-shirts he wears whilst playing) and his one-liners have been played out as memes worldwide. Lando Norris, more than anyone else, has been the person putting smiles back on the faces of race fans.
Formula 1 frequently comes under criticism by some fans for unnecessarily focusing too much on ‘the top teams’ during live broadcasts and it would only be after the race or on the next day that the viewers would catch up on some excellent overtaking maneuvers which occurred in the midfield. We have a similar situation for the virtual races currently taking place during the extended enforced break of any real-world F1 racing. A viewer has the main broadcast of the race with informative commentary and spectator mode, but they also can access the Lando Norris streamed version of the race – showing the race from Lando’s onboard camera with full live Norris commentary.
This past Sunday, having already raced for the previous two hours in Veloce eSports’ ‘Not the Bah GP’, Norris was all set for qualifying for the F1 Virtual GP – also held in the heart of the Sakhir desert – online. However, due to technical issues with the game, Norris was unable to set a time of merit and would start at the back of the grid. All of this, including his continued struggles to join the live race, was live-streamed on Twitch.
For those unaware, Twitch is a streaming platform where gamers are streaming their video game performances to their fans. At present, Amazon Prime is allowing a subscriber one free subscription to a Twitch streamer of their choice. The fans – in their thousands – have chosen Lando Norris.
This period of interest in eSports is perfect for Norris, who (let’s not forget) signed off his remarks with a request to his fans to subscribe to his channel - during an interview at the 2019 US F1 Grand Prix. Couple this with the fact that the British driver recently confessed, at the Autosport International show, that social media was his life and we quickly see that his success is not an overnight sensation.
Due to the fact, that Sunday’s Twitch stream by Lando Norris lasted 6 hours and 10 minutes, it will take some time for people to catch up. However, everything around the F1 Virtual GP is well worth your time. This article is not long enough to feature all the gems of the Bahrain Virtual F1 GP told from the perspective of Lando, but this moment was priceless:
- Lando Norris streamed his call to George Russell and told the Williams driver: “I wanted to call the person who got the most experience from last year starting on the back row of the grid.”
Although, Max Verstappen showed his own quick-witted response when Norris also called him prior to the race to ask what to do due to starting at the back: “I would turn off the computer…Don’t brake into Turn 1, take everyone out, do one lap in reverse and then fully send it into the pit wall!”
Such is the current interest of Lando Norris as ‘a gamer’ it can surely not just be a coincidence that today Logitech G and McLaren have ushered in a new era of racing. As the press release announced:
Logitech G, a brand of Logitech today announced a renewed partnership with McLaren bringing about a new era of racing. Combining McLaren’s rich heritage in the worlds of motorsport and automotive with Logitech G’s expertise in eRacing, eSports and gaming technology, the two companies will expand deeper into eSports this year.
Logitech G and McLaren have been at the forefront of the ongoing eRacing explosion. Competitions like the McLaren Shadow Project (which features Lando Norris) and the Logitech G Challenge have played a key role in the rapid growth of the community and interest in the sport. In 2018 and 2019, the two-event series drew more than a million competitors combined. Moving forward, McLaren and Logitech will combine efforts into a single thrilling competition, G Challenge 2020, which they describe as being - the most inclusive eRacing competition in the world!
Lando Norris and Max Verstappen have put iRacing on the map and now Logitech clearly feels that with Norris on board (as well as Carlos Sainz) the G Challenge 2020 competition will rival the very best.
Finally, McLaren had more reason to be smiling today, the best reason, as shared in a tweet by McLaren mechanic Jonny Rickett today:
“Well, finally feels like we are actually making progress and heading home before our time runs out [closed borders]. So pleased that the other guys are on their way home too! Past 14 days have been an experience. Thanks for all the support and kind words. Stay safe. Xx”
As much as the Virtual GPs and eRacing are filling column inches of articles – this is the most important story of the day. To hear that all McLaren personnel impacted by COVID-19’s breakout in Melbourne are heading home - is a relief indeed.
We can only hope for more stories of recoveries between now and whenever the cars return to the track. In the meantime, when looking for someone to keep our spirits up, Lando Norris seems to be the man (albeit a mere 20 years of age) for the job.