McLaren has hired Ben Payne as their head of esports.
Payne comes from Microsoft, where he worked in multiple roles, most recently involved with marketing, partnerships and events for Xbox EMEA. This is the first esports director role at a Formula 1 team, and has been announced during the last week of McLaren’s World’s Fastest Gamer event.
McLaren are forward thinking in the space and World’s Fastest Gamer, announced in April, was the first esports property belonging to a Formula 1 team. The event saw one sim racer given a 12 month contract by the company, and as it enters it’s final week today, the announcement of Payne’s hire indicates they have further designs in the space.
Payne will be responsible for overseeing “the growth and development of McLaren’s esports strategy, including all aspects of the World’s Fastest Gamer programme.” This quietly spells out a return for World’s Fastest Gamer, but also suggesting they have bigger esports plans.
Whether this will remain in simulation racing or could see the organisation spread out to other esports remains to be seen. That’s… probably Payne’s job to work out now, as it goes. We’ll have to see what happens in 2018.