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Behind the Scenes at McLaren's World's Fastest Gamer Finals

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McLaren’s search for the World’s Fastest Gamer has been ramped up this week as the competition finalists arrived at the team's Technology Centre in Woking.

Over the course of this week, the gamers will be put through their paces in both physical and mental testing alongside driving challenges.

They’ve already competed in simulated races that mirror some of McLaren’s greatest challenges and achievements, including racing around Brazil’s famous Interlagos circuit stuck in eighth gear on Sunday.


Following that, the 11 finalists then took on the Indy 500, a race very close to the heart of the British team.

They’ve already been examined by a team of McLaren’s top human performance testers, who have judged their cognitive ability, as well as their driving skills.

Michael Collier, Head of Human Performance at McLaren, spoke about how different the finalists compete, compared to their current formula 1 test drivers.


"The one thing that is really standing out is that they are racing as gamers and not racing drivers.

"We had a scenario where they could only use one particular gear. Only two of them in the practice tried driving the car like that, whereas if we knew something was going to happen in the real world, we'd practice for that.

"That's the biggest difference we've noticed so far, they're racing as gamers, not drivers."


So there's clearly a lot of work to be done before one finalist can take the contract with McLaren but whoever does will get to regularly return to the Technology Centre as a member of the team. 

And that must be something all the gamers are desperate to do. The McLaren Technology Centre complex itself is immense. 

The building itself is 14 years old but looks like it could have been completed just 14 days ago. It's certainly a different environment from the one competitors are used to racing in.


The change of environment itself will affect one finalist perhaps more than the others.

Yordi Maldonado has travelled all the way to England from Mexico to compete in the World's Fastest Gamer Finals.

However, he knows that once he gets going there's no reason he can't challenge the rest of the grid.

"There's a little more pressure racing here than at home obviously. But as soon as you get into the simulator everything feels great." 


Getting acclimatised to working with McLaren is just one of the challenges facing the finalists.

Over this week they'll be constantly assessed, with the five-man judging panel watching their every move. 

The panel is made up of people with a range of different backgrounds and skills, which ensures that every base is assessed before the decision is made. 


Zak Brown, Executive Director of the McLaren Technology Group, heads the judges and alongside him sit four others.

Mark Temple, who's a Race Engineer at McLaren and Oliver Turvey, a Test and Development Driver, will be working closely with the winner they choose. 

Darren Cox, founder of Ideas and Cars and Collier, Head of Human Performance make up the panel.

They need to be certain of picking the right racer for the job and there are three things in particular that Collier will be looking for himself.

"The three main areas we're looking at are stimuli recognition, cognitive processing and actuation," he said while speaking on stage in MTC's auditorium on Monday. 


Temple also outlined what he's looking for in McLaren's next simulated driver. 

"To be a good simulated driver they need to be a little bit unique. The environment is a little different to racing - you're trying to develop the car.

"They need to be quick and consistent, while at the same time be able to give detailed feedback on what the car is doing in an intelligent and structured way." 

If the finalists thought the hard work ends this week, judging by these comments, they'd be very wrong.

But for all of them, securing a contract with McLaren would be a dream come true, no matter how tough a job it is.

When asked what winning would mean to him, British competitor Harry Jacks said:

"It's hard to put it into words, for me especially. Growing up as a child I always enjoyed F1 and I've been a McLaren fan from a young age.  

"To combine the two things I love, online gaming and F1, it would be a dream come true." 


The 11 competitors have done very well just to get this far.

But with the winner announced next week, they'll all be desperate to go all the way to secure the McLaren contract on offer and become the World's Fastest Gamer.  

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