Formula 1 McLaren star Lando Norris insists online racing is now “more than just a game” and has described Simon Pagenaud’s crash as “selfish”.
McLaren star has been taking part in both Formula 1 and IndyCar’s virtual racing series in recent weeks and was about to take a second straight victory final iRacing Challenge when Pagenaud intentionally slowed down to take crash with Norris.
The incident became viral on the internet, with McLaren boss Zak Brown tweeting that it was “not what you expect from a champion” – and Norris has also criticised Pagenaud.
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“I know it’s virtual and people class it as a game, but it’s become quite a bit more than that over the last few weeks,” Norris told ESPN.
“You still expect people to act professionally, drivers who have experience. Although it’s virtual and that’s what everyone uses as an excuse, it was still taken seriously by pretty much everyone else.”
“We put a lot of time into it, me, my engineers and the whole team, so for someone to be so selfish, not care about anyone else and do what he wants because he got annoyed at me for some reason, was disappointing.”
“I guess you just have to kind of move on. In some ways we’re lucky it wasn’t real. There could have been real consequences.”
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“In a few weeks, maybe eSports will get to a level where there are consequences. You can’t take people too seriously when they’re in a world where they are vulnerable of getting beaten.”
Another McLaren driver, Oliver Askew was taken out later in the iRace by former Haas test driver Santino Ferrucci, who was caught on camera laughing about the incident.
Norris says eSports should now be taken more seriously given how much it has grown in the absence of ‘real’ track racing.
“The big conversation is, yes it’s a game, and therefore you shouldn’t care about it, and so on… but at the same time eSports has really got to a point over the last few months where it’s become more serious,” he added.
“Not only because it’s on TV, but personally for different drivers, for different teams and sponsors, there’s companies and teams and so on that still need this advertising. It’s on TV in America with thousands and thousands of people watching.”
“It’s more than just a game now when it’s at this sort of level.”
Norris is expected to take part in Formula 1’s next Virtual GP, which is taking place around Spain’s Circuit de Catalunya and will be live on Sky Sports F1 on Sunday evening.