McLaren is one of the most storied and successful teams in Formula 1. Having won championships with the likes of James Hunt, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen, and Lewis Hamilton. They are a household name for racers and arguably the most well-supported of the many British F1 constructors.
They don't just do F1 though. McLaren also races in INDYCAR, and will be entering Extreme E next year. Since 2017 they have been involved in the esports scene through McLaren Shadow, competing in the official F1 Esports championship but also other prestigious competitions like the V10 R-League.
Today, McLaren has unveiled the next step in its esports programme, the McLaren Shadow Studio. Created at their Woking-based Technology Centre, we had the chance to go and experience the space, and find out what is next for the group.
McLaren Shadow Studio
Built inside the amazing McLaren Technology Centre, the space is designed to train, create, and grow the McLaren Shadow name. Using some incredible partnerships, the McLaren Shadow Studio holds four Playseat setups. Alienware PCs and 38-inch curved monitors provide the platform to race on, and Logitech G923 wheels along with Pro X headsets and C922 webcams also from Logitech round out the setups which will make a lot of racers jealous.
We were fortunate to get the chance to slide in and race, with a few expert tips from the McLaren Shadow guys, including Ben Daly, aka Tiametmarduk. With four rigs setup like this, it's an ideal place for the Shadow team to get together ahead of an event to train and share setups and ideas around whatever race they have coming up.
But the plan is far grander than that for this space.
Beyond sim racing
Gaming has been taking over the at-home entertainment market for years, and 2020 only accelerated that process. While McLaren has a natural home in the sim racing world, that is only a small slice of the pie. McLaren Shadow has ambitions well beyond that niche.
"McLaren Shadow compete in the four best sim racing esports right now [...] those allow us to speak to the best, biggest, most-engaged audience in sim racing esports" said Lindsey Eckhouse, McLaren Racing's Director of Licensing, ecommerce, and esports.
Part of the aim for the McLaren Shadow Studio is to use it as a content creation hub that goes beyond having James Baldwin putting in the laps there.
Be that having Lando Norris, an avid streamer himself, using the space or utilizing McLaren Shadow's ambassadors like Ben Daly. It will also go beyond racing into the world of Rocket League, FIFA, and evolve the Shadow brand from a racing one, into more of a general gaming/lifestyle brand.
With a strong foothold in gaming thanks to their success on the virtual track, it's a move that makes a lot of sense for McLaren Shadow. With partnerships in the mobile gaming space on Garena Free Fire and a lot of genuine support among broader gamers already, the move into the wider gaming sphere is one that should reap benefits for McLaren overall, and create a whole new generation of fans.
For more articles like this, take a look at our Esports page.