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Published: February 15, 2022

Written by: Stoyan Todorov

  • Formula One esports see huge growth and rise in popularity
  • Study finds two-thirds of UK parents think esports can have a positive impact in schools
  • “We’re starting to do much more with partners,” says McLaren Racing representatives

With Formula One esports rising in popularity over the past two years, McLaren Racing representatives say these competitions need more grassroots support.

With the continual rise in the popularity of esports, many companies have pointed out that the field has a large potential. The positive prognoses come even from organizations involved with Formula One, including McLaren Racing.

With the world being gripped by the world pandemic over the past two years, Formula One embraced esports as a whole. The organization has hosted an official esports championship since 2017, but it really blew up in popularity in 2020, reaching viewership numbers of over 11 million worldwide. This is a whopping 98% increase in views compared to last year.

McLaren Racing’s director of licensing, e-commerce, and esports Lindsey Eckhouse recently told the BlackBook that it is important to focus on grassroots investment and support the fledgling esports field. To prove her point, Eckhouse pointed out a recent study undertaken by team partner Dell Technologies. Results from it revealed that more than two-thirds of  UK parents believe esports can play a positive role in a school. However, when asked if they would be happy if their child has a career in the field, less than a third agreed, showing that additional support is needed for grassroots competitions to become more acceptable.

More Support Is Needed

Eckhouse stated that despite the rise in popularity in F1 esports over the past two years and the positive news from Dell Technologies’ study, there is still more work to be done. “We saw that through Covid-19 and what Formula One esports was able to do to really ensure that they engaged fan bases, even when real live races were happening,” she said.

She also mentioned that if esports wants to reinforce its position, it has to delve further into the mainstream media. “As much as we can do from a grassroots perspective to ensure that there is this level of engagement as a curriculum and has this similar platform to traditional sport or entertainment, I think the better because then it ensures that esports becomes kind of more on par as a mainstream avenue for people to take.”

To help do this, McLaren Racing formed the McLaren Shadow esports team last year. The organization also opened a dedicated esports studio at the Woking headquarters in July 2021.

“It’s been heavily used, which is exciting, and certainly serving the purpose to help us build our business, the McLaren Shadow brand and the broader gaming industry,” said Eckhouse about the studio.

With esports becoming ever more popular, to the point even professional F1 drivers are creating esports teams, it seems like the digital and traditional fields will continue to merge even more in the coming years.

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