Like any Formula 1 team, McLaren is fanatical about data. It is a vital cornerstone to success, which is why serious attention is paid to the quantity and quality of what is gathered and how it is used.
Since 2017, McLaren has also taken part in Formula 1 esports, with its own professional team of drivers and engineers receiving the same level of dedication and support from the company as their real-life counterparts, extending to an equal focus on race data.
Speaking to TechRadar Pro, Lindsey Eckhouse, Director of Licensing, Ecommerce & esports at McLaren, told us how its partnership with data firm Splunk plays a pivotal role in both the real and virtual Formula 1 success for the legendary racing team.
Shadow-ing real F1
McLaren Shadow (opens in new tab) is the car maker’s esports and gaming division. The virtual racing team is run very much like the physical team, with professional gamers taking to the cockpits of simulation rigs to compete in digital grands prix.
And just like the real thing, the importance of establishing partnerships with other businesses is crucial to McLaren. Alongside Logitech, Shadow has also partnered with PC maker Alienware to provide the rigs, Tesos for blockchain technology and NFT releases for its esport audience, and OKX for cryptocurrency exchanges.
“It’s really about: how can we work with partners that give us an authentic way to bring their technology to life or achieve whatever their objective is… to leverage their technology and expertise”, said Eckhouse.
From a data perspective, the main partner for both Shadow McLaren and the real-life Formula 1 team is Splunk, a software platform that provides all the analytical capabilities a team requires.
Of particular importance is Splunk Dashboards – a feature that allows for data to be customized in terms of its graphical representation, such as telemetry readings for steering, acceleration and braking inputs, to make it easy for drivers and engineers alike to understand at a glance.
“The Splunk dashboards are a good example of similar technology in terms of exploring a variety of different areas – we can also dig into that from an F1 esports standpoint to really inform our race strategy,” Eckhouse says, adding that the lead engineer for the F1 esports team actually works in the real-life race team, “so again there are shared learnings of strategy development across F1 into the F1 esports arena.”
“I think Splunk is probably the best example of where we see their applications carry over into esports, and fortunately last year we saw that yield some great results.”, she adds, referring to the McLaren Shadow team’s 2022 constructors’ championship win (opens in new tab).
Expanding on the partnership with Splunk, Eckhouse explained that the relationship goes both ways:
“When you think of the audience in esports, it’s incredibly engaged; it’s also high propensity to be in the IT industry in the future or potentially work at Splunk or within esports, so there’s so many different applications I think that Splunk benefit from through the partnership, and certainly we benefit from from using their technology.”