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McLaren Formula 1 team reveals Shadow Project eSports competition

McLaren has announced a new initiative as a follow-up to last year's successful World's Faster Gamer contest, with the winner earning a spot on its eSports team in 2019

The McLaren Shadow Project - so-called because it 'shadows' the real F1 team - is intended to be more inclusive than any other driving competition held to date.

Global online qualification heats will start this month across a number of games such as Forza Motorsport (Xbox One), Real Racing 3 (mobile), iRacing and rFactor 2 (PC) - including the virtual reality component through the HTC Vive VR headset.

The semi-finals take place at Woking, with the final held in January to decide the McLaren eSports team member.

McLaren believes that the inclusion of "more casual games" such as Real Racing 3 will allow it to reach a much bigger audience.

"In World's Faster Gamer the simulator was the star," McLaren director of eSports Ban Payne told Autosport. "The Shadow Project has broadened the entire programme out, so there are more ways to get involved.

"The end output of it is we'll have additional talent for our eSports team, and more people to bring into our eSports development programme across McLaren as a group.

"Hopefully, our entrant and concurrent viewer and spectator numbers will be bigger than we had before."

Payne says McLaren has forged closer links with gaming companies after the success of World's Faster Gamer that earned winner Rudy Van Buren into a full-time role in the F1 team as a sim driver.

Life as the world's faster gamer

"It's been a busy seven or eight months," he said. "We took a lot of knowledge from last year, and we're partnering closely with our gaming partners, and they are key to those audiences. McLaren can only do so much, as we are not a gaming brand.

"When we're working with people like EA [publishers of Real Racing 3], Forza and Xbox and even within the sim racing space with rFactor and iRacing, we've now got a year of authenticity to look back on.

"We can say we've done this, this is for a real, and we have someone who is a manifestation of that in Rudy, look what he's done, he's in the sim, helping the team.

"Plus we've learned a bunch, and we'll take all that learning into this year, so you'll be able to watch it easier, play easier, we'll be able to reward you easier, and you'll be able to enjoy quicker and earlier than you did last year."

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown stressed the importance of the esports programme.

"A strong, diverse eSports programme has a direct benefit to McLaren's innovative ambitions, bringing in new audiences, partners and talent to motorsport," he said.

"By ramping up over multiple platforms across the online world, it will establish McLaren as an important brand in the motorsport esports community."

More information on the Shadow Project, which is open to anyone over the age of 18, can be found here.

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