What happens when grand prix racing meets the age of advanced technology?
A myriad of exciting concepts showcasing how a Formula 1 car could look and operate in the future had gone before. However, nobody had provided detailed thought and insight into just how grand prix racing will exist far into the future; envisaging viable developments in cars, drivers, tracks and fan engagement.
McLaren, a brand synonymous with success in the sport, set out to provide the answer by unveiling the ultimate vision for grand prix racing three decades from now. The year is 2050, the Formula 1 World Championship is celebrating its centenary, and technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), autonomy, electrification and mixed reality will have become commonplace in society.
Future Grand Prix explores four key areas:
• The race car of 2050: codenamed MCLExtreme (or MCLE for short)
• Developments in driver human performance
• The race tracks of the future
• The fan experience we can expect in 2050
The objectives of the campaign were to:
• Promote McLaren as a thought leader in motorsport technology, entertainment, human performance and design.
• Raise McLaren Applied Technologies and McLaren Group brand profiles
• Promote McLaren as a forward-thinking, exciting place for prospective candidates
• Showcase the diverse skillsets throughout the organisation
• Provide value-add brand visibility for McLaren Racing partners
Our pursuit of the possible began in October 2018, with McLaren Applied Technologies carrying out an extensive research process into the needs and wants of the sport’s most important stakeholders – the fans – and coupling it with analysis of technological, economic, environmental, political and societal trends.
Delving into the market forces and trends of today, as well as those likely to be pertinent in the future, saw detailed examination of the direction of international policy on vehicle electrification and emissions targets, development of human and automotive technology, the potential emergence of rapidly growing economies, and the need to attract a more diverse and engaged fan base.
Alongside this analysis, McLaren Applied Technologies undertook a series of workshops with MA and PhD students from top universities to delve deeper into the research, and to envisage how motorsport might respond to future scenarios – synthesising a huge range of possibilities down to a single set of concepts that existed across a fan’s experience.
Inspired by the fans and our wider research we sought the knowledge of our experts in powertrain, aerodynamics, design, materials technology, data science and human performance to create a blueprint for grand prix racing.
• A 500 km/h race car – fast, predatory, instinctive and founded upon technical insight. It features an inductively charged rear-wheel drive electric powertrain, high density foldable batteries moulded to the aerodynamic package, shape-shifting active aerodynamics, on-board AI co-pilot and self-healing tyres.
• The race circuit of the future – longer and wider with huge sidewinding banks, E-pitlanes for charging, transparent roof facilities for fans to get closer to the action, tracks that are adaptable to extreme weather and black-out zones with no communication or AI assistance for the driver.
• The driver of 2050 – with a reinforced g-suit to contend with extreme high speeds, AI co-pilot that learns driver behavior and aids them during a race, dynamic projection of driver emotion on the chassis of the car, and performance actuated on cognition, emotion, and physiological response.
• The next generation fan experience – which includes fan sentiment displayed to the driver in the cockpit, mixed reality giving fans access to multiple camera angles and race data, gamers competing in the race virtually and in real-time, and esports pathfinders acting as reconnaissance scouts by taking to the virtual track before races to provide strategy support.
The campaign received exposure across a variety of influential sport, design and technology media. This included ESPN, Sky Sports, Motorsport, Designboom, Yanko Design, Race Tech Magazine and front page of the leading weekly motor racing publication, Autosport – receiving an eight-page feature in the magazine.
Exposure totaled over 500 individual features and achieved a potential media reach of 556 million, generating $6.8m in AVE.
The campaign also broke several digital and social records for McLaren Applied Technologies, resulting in 11 million social media impressions, one million social media engagements and drove $2 million of earned media value for McLaren Racing partners.
Campaign results summary:
• 556M potential media reach
• $6.8M Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE)
• 11M social media impressions on McLaren’s channels
• 1M social media engagements on McLaren’s channels
• 3,000 mentions of McLaren Applied Technologies on Twitter in 24-hours
• 250k video views
• $2M partner earned media through social
• Single highest day of traffic to McLaren Applied Technologies website ever recorded
Bringing this thought-provoking concept to life by drawing upon McLaren Applied Technologies’ unique approach to insight-led design, exemplified McLaren’s single-minded drive for technological excellence and commitment to a journey of relentless improvement that challenges convention.
It represents an expression of McLaren’s brand values in action and demonstrates the power of collaboration. The campaign will be used to promote McLaren’s forward-thinking dynamic environment and progressive culture, helping to attract prospective candidates and inspire our current people.
Furthermore, it has seen the creation of a credible blueprint for one of the most popular sports in the world – a vision of future grand prix racing that harnesses emerging technologies with fan passion at its core. The ultimate fusion of human and technology.
It has further enhanced McLaren’s standing as a thought leader, and stimulated debate about how motorsport responds to changes in technology and sports entertainment trends to ensure it can meet the needs of fans in 2050. By captivating the imagination of fans, enthusiasts, industry experts and the media, it puts the future of grand prix racing firmly in the spotlight as it approaches a crucial juncture in its existence.