McLaren launches Shadow Project esports programme

When it comes to esports, the most popular games are usually shooters or MOBAs. Although there are plenty of competitive racing games out there, they rarely make big waves – at least compared to big esports like League of Legends or CS:GO.

Because of that, it’s always great to hear that big things are going on in the esports racing world. Today, McLaren announced the launch of their shadow project which is very big news indeed. Backed by Logitech, HTC Vive, Sparco Gaming and Alienware, this project is a global racing simulation event.

To be more precise, after McLaren’s World’s Fastest Gamer competition ended in 2017, this is McLaren’s next big thing. The winner from last year’s competition – Rudy van Buren – now works for McLaren F1 as a simulator test driver, which is a pretty big deal.

McLaren Simulator

The new shadow project will feature multiple games across multiple platforms. These include Forza Motorsport for the Xbox One, rFactor 2 and iRacing for PC and even games like Real Racing 3 on mobile devices. Part of the competition will also involve a virtual reality component featuring the HTC Vive VR headset.

The project got its name because it ‘shadows’ the real F1 team and is intended to make driving competitions more inclusive than they had been so far. Equality and diversity are always big topics, so it’s especially great to see a big company like McLaren make efforts here. The global online qualifications will start later this month and are open to anyone over the age of 18.

As for the actual events, they are starting off in August this year and will run throughout the summer. The big finale of the competition is taking place in January 2019. As for the prize the winner gets – like last year’s event, the winner will gain a place on the McLaren esports team and represent said team across the world.

As if that wasn’t enough, the winner will also receive an ‘enviable stash of goodies’. We don’t know exactly what that will contain but we can’t wait to see the happy winner squirrel it away on his way to his new job at McLaren. Given that that is the main prize it wouldn’t even matter if that stash was made up of two wristbands and a used pair of shoes.

Ben Payne, the director of esports at McLaren spoke out about the shadow project:

“Last year’s competition proved that the skills learned as a racing gamer are transferable to the real world. This is unique to the racing genre. We believe that esports and real-world racing have much to learn and give to each other and last year’s competition was just the start. McLaren Shadow Project will be the most open and inclusive racing esports competition on the planet. We are looking for the most talented virtual racers from all countries and backgrounds. To make this possible we have partnered with the biggest racing game brands in the world – Real Racing 3 on mobile, Forza Motorsport on Xbox, PC racing sims iRacing and rFactor 2.”


The decision to include casual games like Real Racing 3 was made on purpose – last year’s competition saw a finalist (Henrik Drue, a surgeon) who had never played racing titles on a console or PC before. Despite this, he was able to outperform most of his competition with relative ease. This phenomenon made the company decide to widen the field as it were, in the hopes of reaching a wider audience.

In addition to the shadow project, McLaren are also participating in the Formula 1 Esports Pro Draft taking place in London on the 9th of July.

Comments are closed.