McLaren Racing will trial a new live streaming product exclusively for their commercial partners on the return of Formula One this weekend, with behind-the-scenes content aiming to fill the void for partners shut out of live race days.
Due to the current situation regarding Covid-19, fans and VIP guests are prohibited to physically attend races for the foreseeable future. For the return of Formula One at the Red Bull Ring in Austria on July 5, McLaren have created an innovative product to deliver value to partners who cannot attend.
Named McLaren Slipstream, the virtual platform features exclusive behind the scenes content, garage tours and interviews with McLaren drivers such as, Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz, in addition to team principle Andreas Seidl and chief executive Zak Brown.
The platform will be hosted at McLaren’s Technology Centre in Woking which is centred around a live stream. The service will firstly be exclusive to team partners with the prospect of being available to fans in the future if a success, according to McLarens managing director of sales and marketing, Mark Waller.
“We’re going to create a live stream content product for our partners to be able to be with us in the garage, in the pits, behind the scenes, remotely,” Waller said.
“We’re now going to build an infrastructure that will allow our partners, wherever they are in the world, to actually have custom-made experience for themselves at-track. They’ll be able to have interviews with Lando, hear from Zak and Andreas, see what’s going on, have a tour of the garage and the pit.
“All the things that they would normally be able to do in person, we will be doing remotely. And I think that’s a super exciting product and service…that will be a feature for the long-term.”
The Formula One season has yet to get underway, after the opening race in Australia was postponed back in March. Formula One now plan to stage eight races in ten weeks across six tracks in Europe, starting with back-to-back events in Austria. Another back-to-back race will then be held in the UK at Silverstone, before races in Hungary, Spain, Belgium and Italy. Talks concerning the addition of races will be ‘announced in the coming weeks’.
A maximum of 80 members of staff are permitted to attend races, as Grand Prix’s will take place without fans and corporate VIP guests. Only essential personnel will be allowed to physically attend, with plans to create a ‘biosphere’ environment where all paddock staff will be tested for Covid-19 regularly while adhering to social distancing rules.
McLaren’s commercial partners, which includes the likes of Dell, Coca-Cola, Pirelli and Hilton, will be unable to host corporate guests upon the restart as a health and safety precaution. The introduction of Slipstream is an attempt to help fill that void for the time being.
“We’re not able to test this idea so race one will be our first experience, which is a little nerve-wracking,” said Waller. “We’ve communicated it to our partners, who are the target market for it and…we want to eventually see what we can do from a fan perspective.
“There are many things that we’ve learnt in the last three months that will result in us doing a lot of things differently, that will stay with us. Hopefully that’s one of them.”
Slipstream will only be available to McLaren’s commercial partners, but Waller has said that McLaren are planning to create “unique content” for fans “on a race-by-race basis” this year. Fans will be able to access race data and real-time commentary through their existing McLaren App.
“Whilst they can’t physically be there, they’ll be able to get a lot out of each of the very individual race experiences,” Waller said. “I can’t dig as much into that at the moment because those are plans that are still being finalised, but I’d like to think that we’ll be able to deliver innovative, world-class experiences.”
McLaren are not the only motorsports firm to introduce a virtual VIP service due to coronavirus. Organisers of the Extreme E all-electric SUV off-road racing series revealed they will be selling virtual hospitality packages last month. Packages include, immersive viewing experience featuring a VIP access portal, live streaming service, garage tours and race director cuts, in addition to access to team and driver radios and a live DJ stream.
Author: James Parker