In March 2020, Formula 1 teams were faced with a heavy decision to stop or postpone their races as in-person sporting events were being cancelled amidst a growing pandemic. Determined to keep the competition alive, F1 teams joined the Esports Grand Prix series and invited over 70,000 unique viewers from around the world to tune in remotely. Just one year later and hybrid sports, or bridging in-person and remote sporting interactions through collaboration technology, is here to stay.
Cisco recently announced that Webex was named the official collaboration partner of the McLaren Racing Formula 1 team, providing a revolutionary pathway of how we’ll enjoy racing in-person and remotely. McLaren Racing, a leading British motor racing team, has been at the epicenter of racing innovation for decades. So, it’s no surprise they are leveraging Webex to deliver on their new offerings to stay engaged and connected to audiences in the new normal. One of these offerings is McLaren Slipstream— their livestreaming service providing exclusive behind-the-scenes content for partners and guests during race weekends, special launches, driver meets and greets, and more. The power of Webex allows hybrid sports to be at the core of how McLaren continues to deliver their unique, special experiences for their audiences on and off the racetrack.
To give us the inside scoop, we spoke with McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown to learn more about the state of his business and how he’s navigated this past year to stay competitive in 2021 and beyond with Webex.
How has the pandemic impacted McLaren Racing?
The start of the coronavirus pandemic was a challenging and unprecedented situation for the world. It’s been a difficult period for our team and the sport. Looking back, the right steps were taken to postpone the start of the 2020 season to protect everyone involved in Formula 1.
We’ve had to manage an ever-evolving situation which led to some difficult decisions to protect our team members and the sport. The team quickly adapted to the new circumstances of Covid as we implemented remote working alongside frequent testing and social distancing measures for team members that needed to operate from the McLaren Technology Centre.
The global pandemic has made the team stronger and shown everyone’s dedication and resilience during a challenging time. We’ve been able to participate in the Ventilator Challenge UK consortium, return to racing in the safest way possible, achieve third in Constructors’ World Championship and balance the 2020 car with the development of our 2021 car all under Covid safety protocols. I couldn’t be prouder of this team.
What is McLaren’s biggest priority for this year?
We’re still in the midst of a global pandemic so the priority remains to keep our team, fans, partners and everyone involved in the sport safe as we go racing. Beyond that, our aim is to continue to improve our performance and close the gap to the front teams.
Why did McLaren choose Webex as a collaboration partner?
The ability to connect with others around the world has never been more important. Cisco Webex’s industry leading cloud-based suite of tools enables McLaren Racing to overcome geographical boundaries, create virtual experiences, and bring our fans and partners closer to the heart of the team.
How is Webex fueling innovation at McLaren, especially for your audiences (partners, drivers and fans)?
Cisco Webex plays an integral role in powering McLaren Slipstream, our pioneering livestream platform for McLaren Racing partners. The help of Webex allows us to give our partners exclusive behind-the-scenes insights into the McLaren Formula 1 team, our drivers Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, and everything that takes place during a race weekend.
We’re also able to engage with our fans and the media in new and exciting ways through Cisco Webex, especially when face to face contact is limited due to the global pandemic.
McLaren is at the heart of racing innovation. What does the future look like for McLaren racing?
Innovation sits at the heart of everything we do both on and off the track and is driven by competition. Looking to the future, we’re positive and optimistic at what’s to come across our Formula 1 and INDYCAR teams. The determination and teamwork of all the men and women at McLaren is a source of inspiration and pairing that together with the fantastic support of our partners and fans along with new investment means there’s a lot to be excited about.