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McLaren F1 team, HTC eye pole position with official VR partnership
- McLaren has teamed up with mobile and VR manufacturer HTC as part of a multi-year deal.
- The deal will see HTC serve as the F1 team’s official VR partner, extending to experiences and esports.
- The agreement comes after McLaren’s successful World’s Fastest Gamer competition.
The partnership will yield new virtual reality and augmented reality experiences, the team announced, along with a special McLaren-themed Vive headset. In a rather cool move, McLaren will also use the new Vive Pro headset for its esports programme, saying it will be the “world’s first VR esports competition integrated with a real sport.” Certainly a mouthful.
McLaren is no stranger to esports, either. Last year, the team held its World’s Fastest Gamer competition. Rudy van Buren emerged as the winner, earning a job as an official simulator driver for the team.
Experiences to expect?
The F1 team is also signed up as one of nine real-world F1 teams competing in the second Formula 1 esports Series. The first half of the new season will see gamers vying for a place in July’s Pro Draft, where the teams will select their drivers for the second half of the season. The second running of the series has a prize pool of at least $200,000.
McLaren and HTC haven’t revealed the VR experiences they have in mind, but it’s unlikely you’ll be able to watch a race in 360 degrees with your Vive. The motorsport series has traditionally been very cagey about broadcast rights and digital media. In fact, new owners Liberty Media previously ordered four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton to remove an Instagram video taken from the broadcast feed.
Nevertheless, there’s nothing stopping McLaren from using older cars and filming some quick laps around iconic circuits. What kind of F1 fan wouldn’t want to experience a 360-degree lap around the winding Nordschleife circuit?
There’s no word if McLaren will be using last year’s car for a few experiences. After all, I doubt anyone has ever seen a Honda engine blow up in VR before.