Formula 1’s eSports double world champion Brendon Leigh will make his real race debut this weekend in a Formula Ford 1600 race at Snetterton in the UK.
The 19-year-old former kitchen porter, who had yet to pass his driving test when he won the esports title for the Mercedes team last year but has done so now, became the sport’s inaugural virtual champion in 2017.
FF1600website.com said Leigh, who will race on Saturday and Sunday, had already done three days of testing to prepare for his debut with the Kevin Mills Racing team.
“He was fast straight away,” it quoted team boss Kevin Mills as saying. “He wasn’t too different to my other two drivers really. His laptimes were fairly similar. He’ll go well.”
Despite his high profile in sim racing, Mills didn’t realise he was dealing with an Esports champion when giving him his first test.
“He just asked to come and do a test two months ago. I didn’t even know who he was – my son knew who he was, I didn’t know!” Mills said.
“He tested and he went quite well. I thought it would just be a one-off but then he came back and did two more days and he was very good again.”
Leigh shed more than 20kg last year as he transformed from a chubby teen to a lean, professional gamer, working out at the Mercedes team factory with a Formula 1 trainer.
The website adds that Leigh is the second driver in as many years to switch from online racing to FF1600. Virtual racer Sebastian Job won a drive with B-M Racing last season through the JMR Scholarship.