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Finding future Vettels on the eSports circuit

Few people can claim to have won a race against Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel.

But Lucas Blakeley can make that claim.

He’s also a racing legend, although you’ve probably never heard of him.

That could be because the Scottish esports athlete is generally found on the virtual track, despite winning against Vettel in a real car.

The pair’s Race of Champions showdown in January was the latest illustration of how the barriers between the real and virtual worlds in Formula 1 are becoming increasingly blurred.

And it’s something that racing team executives claim is assisting them in finding future stars.

Lucas now competes in a global virtual Grand Prix for McLaren’s esports team.

He began go-karting when he was seven years old and quickly realized he wanted to be an F1 driver.

Lucas claims Lewis Hamilton’s championship win in 2007 inspired him even more, but the sport was simply too pricey for him to break into.

“That’s the harsh reality for many racing families out there,” he explains.

Lucas was given a second shot in 2017 when F1 introduced its own esports tournament, providing another entry point into competition.

Last year, while racing for McLaren, he was declared World Champion, starting from pole position and maintaining his advantage throughout the race.

Drivers race in complex simulator rigs that have the same controls as most racing cars and screens that cover the front and side perspectives of the drivers.

The races are big competitions that are viewed by fans all around the world on streaming networks like Twitch.

In 2022, more than 45 million people watched at least one race, according to the esports business Gfinity.

And “the pressure is immense” with all eyes on you, Lucas says BBC Click.



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