Formula 1 star and semi-regular streamer Lando Norris has blown past a number of Twitch records, after the young McLaren driver was left to pass time following the cancellation of the season’s opening race in Melbourne last weekend.
Racing fans and F1 drivers alike were left scratching their heads about how to pass the time after the FIA announced the Australian Grand Prix — as well as Bahrain and Vietnam — had been delayed due to ongoing coronavirus concerns.
Norris, who often plays iRacing.com and boasts more than 200k Twitch followers, settled on streaming. In particular, he broadcast his battle in the 'Not the AUS GP' event, hosted by Veloce Esports. He was left floored after thousands tuned in.
The McLaren star streamed a few days in a row in the Formula 1 preseason, showing off the new MCL35, and playing Escape From Tarkov. During those broadcasts, he averaged around 2,000 viewers, and was pretty stoked.
This time, his viewership exploded immediately. Within minutes, 18,000 loyal fans were watching live. Moments later, he cracked F1’s all-time concurrents record — 24,233, according to TwitchTracker — and he wasn’t slowing down.
In fact, Norris soon found himself in Twitch's pole position. 90 minutes after going live, he cleared 70,000 viewers, leapfrogging huge names Marcel 'MontanaBlack88' Eris and Felix 'xQc' Lengyel, as well as the RLCS and CSGO's Flashpoint.
Norris was impressed when he clocked over 20,000, and cheered as he hit “the most viewers he’s ever had in his life.” Though his next milestones came while he was actually racing, and therefore concentrating, he was still ecstatic.
“I'm so happy right now! I'm shivering, kind of nuts,” he said as he navigated a virtual Albert Park Circuit. “Am I the highest viewed on Twitch right now? I never thought I’d get here. Feels like a lot of support for me, thank you very much.”
McLaren’s star driver is used to millions tuning in to watch him do battle with F1’s biggest names, from Lewis Hamilton to Sebastian Vettel. It seemed he’s not as used to 70,000 on Twitch, and began to crack under the pressure.
“I'm more nervous now than when I drive the actual car!” he laughed as he watched his view count tick up. That fact made itself abundantly clear soon after, as he prepared to start from P19 following a “horrible” qualification session.
Norris has made 21 starts in Formula 1 to date, and in all two dozen races he has had to take part in the usual formation lap. Perhaps he didn’t realize how realistic F1 2019 was. Perhaps he simply forgot. Either way, he made a hilarious mistake.
The Not the AUS GP's formation lap began, and Norris surged away. He cut down the center of the column and seemingly overtook nine “slow” rivals — including Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois — only to realize he'd made a major error.
“Oh, it’s a formation lap! I thought it was the race!” he giggled, and struggled to get his next few sentences out at his broke into peels of laughter. “Sorry! I was like, ‘oh my god, I’m doing it, I’m amazing!’ Then I realized it was going too good...”
While Lando may be celebrating hitting some pretty big milestones, from the most-watched stream the F1 game series has seen, to his own personal achievements, it’s still a long wait for racing fans as the real-life season remains delayed.
Hopefully, however, if F1 events continue to be canned, Norris can lure other racers onto the platform too. If Lando can hit 70k, just imagine how many would tune in to see Kimi Räikkönen, Daniel Ricciardo, or Max Verstappen join him in the action.