Driving a Formula 1 car—never mind racing one against 19 of the world’s best and hungriest drivers—would be enough stimulation for a lifetime for most people. Not for McLaren F1 Team driver Lando Norris, who admitted in an interview that he gets more nervous in the comfort of his own home when he sits down for some sim racing than in the cockpit of his possibly-deadly McLaren MCL35.
“I get so nervous in sim racing for some reason. I get more nervous than I do in like an actual [F1] qualifying session,” Norris told Motorsport.
“I don’t know if it’s because you don’t have the adrenaline of driving the actual car, so you kind of forget about the nerves. In sim racing, you’re sat in the seat, it’s a bit more peaceful and quiet, and you’re literally just driving. You think about a few more things. I need to try and calm myself down as much as possible, I start shaking and getting all nervous, I always ruin my qualifying laps because I get so nervous. My only other thing is to put my Twitch chat into sub-only mode so they can’t talk, otherwise I get too distracted trying to answer their questions.”
Norris was a popular Twitch streamer before he climbed the racing ladder to F1 in 2019, when he helped McLaren achieve its best constructors’ championship result since 2012. In 2020, with much of the F1 calendar delayed or canceled outright, racing fans and the general public alike have turned to sim racing for their fill of sports, further broadening Norris’s viewer base. The young Brit’s popularity has grown so much that during a charity stream last week, when he promised to shave his head if viewers raised over $10,000, fans raised over $12,000, forcing Norris to rename this Thursday’s scheduled stream “Baldo Norris.”
“You’re getting all these viewers clicking in, and most of them are likely to be at home,” Norris continued. “Even when you’re driving, they’re saying that we are making for entertainment, and they enjoy watching us race each other. I think it’s not just entertainment for us racing and showing us race, but it’s got that wider significance of keeping people at home, and trying to make them a bit happy after spending so long in their homes or doing not the things that they wanted.”