LONDON • All Formula One teams could eventually have their own virtual counterparts, while gaming can become the new grassroots of the sport, McLaren executive director Zak Brown said on Monday.
Speaking at an event to promote McLaren's World's Fastest Gamer initiative to recruit a Formula One simulator driver from virtual racing, Brown told reporters the world of e-sports was to be embraced.
"I don't see how any F1 team can ignore the power of e-sports, the audience, the people it produces. So I'd like to think most F1 teams will do something in some way, shape or form," he said.
"This is building the grassroots of motorsports. If the grassroots has historically been karting, which is still a narrow audience because it's still expensive, I see this (gaming) as being the ultimate grassroots of motorsports, being wide and deep and everyone can afford it.
"Racing lends itself so well to e-sports that I think that's got to generate more fans," added Brown.
Simon Long, head of business development at analytics company Nielsen Sport, said the e-sports industry could be worth US$2 billion (S$2.7 billion) by 2020 while attracting up to 600 million viewers.
Formula One's owners Liberty Media have already targeted gaming as a growth area to drive revenues.