Of course Norris is also an avid sim racer. If you enjoy racing online, you’d stand a good chance of meeting him in a race (if you’re good enough) during his weekends off. With the busier F1 schedule, is he still keeping up with his sim racing? “Not as much as I would like! I still do what I can – I still enjoy it, I still race with the online team, I still do what I want to do when I’m home, but I’m definitely not on it as much as I was the past two years.”
McLaren itself is a big supporter of “esports”: organised sporting competitions in the virtual environment. Not only does it have its own sim racing team that competes in the F1 esports series, McLaren Shadow, it also holds competitions to find new sim-racing talent. “I think it’s something we’re leading at the moment. Obviously you have more and more competitions starting – you have F1 esports and more big competitions, but at the moment I think McLaren is bringing in the most people and ending up with some very good drivers such as Rudy.”
Norris is referring to Rudy van Buren, winner of the “World’s Fastest Gamer” event in 2017 and now a member of the McLaren team. Van Buren went on to compete in the real-world Race of Champions event after winning WFG: “He beat me, so he did reasonably well! He’s a good driver, and I knew him a little bit before World’s Fastest Gamer, so I know how he works and drives, and it’s cool to see him go from sim-racing to driving an actual car. It’s hopefully something that’s going to be happening more and more.
“It’s pretty cool – I know a lot of the drivers on the team from before they joined McLaren, but it’s a cool thing to see. I’ll be going to the F1 Arena to see the draft, so it’s still something I’m involved with and something McLaren tries to link me with because I have a good idea of what’s good and bad and how to find a driver out of hundreds of thousands.”
And what of his drive in the M8D? Later in the day, he told Goodwood’s Ed Foster “It was awesome – I didn’t get out of second gear, I was a bit nervous!”
Photography by Tom Shaxson, Jochen Van Cauwenberge and Motorsport Images.