McLaren F1 star Fernando Alonso gets into the game with G2 Esports

Benjamin Kratsch,

January 30, 2018 9:00 PM

The start of something special: Fernando Alonso speaks up about his new job as esports team principal. What does McLaren have up their sleeves to better their game and their cars?

"Every race driver is a gamer at heart," said Two-Time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso during a joint press conference between Logitech, McLaren, and G2 ESports in Abu Dhabi last November. As a celebrity that loves games and is now ready to coach his own esports team FA racing G2 Logitech G, Alonso is ready to go all in as the team principal.

Alonso has always been interested in gaming. He was spotted playing Formula 1 2017 back in June, while in Baku. Back then, it wasn’t a press event or a photo op, just him relaxing a bit with the official Formula 1 game by Codemasters. Simracing is in his DNA, and that’s why he doesn’t just want to be a testimonial or a showcase celebrity. "I am the team principal and hope I have a lot to offer to these guys," he began. "However I am new to the world of esports, have a lot to learn, and can’t wait to discover it. Esports already is so big in other formats; it’s all over TV, newspapers, online. But in racing, it is at the beginning. There is a lot potential, and I hope some of my experience will help our team to race to the top."

The Two-Time F1 World Champion hasnt forgotten about his roots

Even with two F1 World Championships under his belt, the 36-year-old driver from Oviedo, Spain hasn’t forgotten about his roots. At the age of three, his dad built a kart himself to share his love for racing with his kids. "It was originally built for my older sister; she was 8. But not very interested, so I got lucky"

Alonso jokes about his past. And it all started with this self-built, rather unprofessional, white kart. It was tuned and fixed and maintained with love, and when he was a little bit older, he managed to win the Junior Kart Championships in Spain, three times. A talent scout from Nissan watched him, brought him in for a test race and that’s how a giant career started. "Everyone starts small, that’s just how it is," Alonso explained. "But, I think it’s fantastic that gaming will welcome way more people to Formula 1. You know you can’t just rent an F1 car, but pretty much everyone has a PC or console at home these days. Video games have become extremely realistic as well: How certain tire types behave (and) how your car differs between a dry and wet circuit. It’s quite mind-blowing."

G2E's first new driver Cem Bolukbasi shares traits with Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso with G2 Esports CEO Carlos Rodriguez, Cem Bolukbasi, Logitech Head of Gaming. (Source: Logitech)

It’s interesting to see how similar the career paths of Fernando Alonso and one of G2Es first big racing team hires, Cem Bolukbasi, really are. They both started super early, for instance. Both at the age of six, Bolukbasi became the Turkish Motocross Champion and Alonso won his first national Kart Championship. At 14, Bolukbasi was awarded Turkish National Athlete which would allow him to officially take part in races under the Turkish flag. The very same year, he participated in his first big offline tournament, which was the iRacing World Championships. When asked why Bolukbasi is the right guy for the job, Alonso answers, simply, "because he is a natural."

Indeed, it is rare that a pro gamer is capable of dominating several games and spaces. He won the iRacing World Championship Series, became Worlds Fastest Gamer in rFactor 2, and scored a ticket to the F1 eSports Grand Finals in Abu Dhabi.

"I always take time to choose my partners, but really this is a true powerhouse, G2 Esports. As one of the biggest and most successful esports teams, Logitech G with all their equipment experience, and, of course, McLaren with their simulator work and the real-world race driving experience. You always need the best components possible to maximize performance and I know that we have all of this in place here."

A gamer on the development team the next McLaren F1 car?

In addition to Alonso's gaming habits, and the rise of F1 games to the spotlight, McLaren has big plans for esports. Not only are they partnering up with G2 Esports, but also just hired the winner of their very own competition, "World’s Fastest Gamer", as one of their simulator drivers for the 2018 F1 season. A tournament that wasn’t just about single races, but taking part in an actual 24-hour race at Le Mans, where everyone in a team of three had to race for eight hours straight. His job will be to test drive the secret 2018 McLaren F1 car in the virtual world so engineers can use that data and apply it to the real car before Fernando Alonso takes the wheel himself. A gamer as part of the engineering team of an F1 car. That’s something, right?



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