Enlarge / 25-year-old Rudy Van Buren beat out 30,000 gamers to win a year’s contract with the McLaren F1 team as its new simulator driver. (credit: McLaren)
After an exhausting week of fitness tests, engineering debriefs—plus plenty of racing games—the McLaren F1 team has crowned Rudy Van Buren from Leystad, Netherlands as the World’s Fastest Gamer. More than just a fancy title and bragging rights, that has earned him a year’s contract with the team as its new simulator driver.
It’s the culmination of a search that kicked off in May of this year, as the F1 team conferred the most legitimacy yet on this corner of the eSports world.
And it’s a return to the sport for 25-year-old Van Buren.

At age 11 he was Dutch karting champion—and karts are where young racing drivers usually start.

But then as now, it’s a sport where talent often doesn’t shout as loud as funding, and by 16 his racing career—or the first chapter in it—was done. “You search for a replacement because you’ve still got that racing feeling inside you,” Van Buren said. “You want to go on, but there’s no option or route available.

That burn inside to win, doing a lap quicker and quicker, lap after lap, it’s a feeling that you can’t express.

Every boy that starts karting dreams about F1, and at a certain point that dream just vanishes. Now by winning World’s Fastest Gamer, I can relive that dream.”
Now Van Buren will switch his job as a sales manager in Leystad for one at McLaren’s otherworldly HQ in Woking, England.

And make no mistake, simulator driver is a proper job in the modern F1 team.

For the last few years the sport has heavily restricted real in-season testing of the cars, so there has been greater and greater emphasis put on driver-in-the-loop virtual testing.
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