Esports is 'kind of the grassroots of motor sports,' says McLaren Racing chief

  • Esports could bring the Formula 1 experience to the masses, says McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown.
  • Speaking with CNBC at the annual Singapore Summit, Brown said with the advances in simulation technology, esports now allows the F1 franchise to reach out to a larger audience globally.

Formula 1 remains an expensive sport with "hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars" spent annually in a bid for race track dominance.

"It's technology, and you're always chasing it," said Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren Racing. "What you start the season with could be the fastest race car. If you didn't touch that race car, by the end of the year, it would be the slowest race car."

"That's the pace of development and that costs money," Brown told CNBC on Friday at the annual Singapore Summit.

So feeling the thrill of F1 has long had a massive price tag, but that may be changing. According to Brown, esports could be the answer to bringing the racing experience to the masses.

"Esports, I think, is great," Brown said. "It's kind of the grassroots of motor sports."

And with the advances in simulation technology, "these are no longer arcade games," he added.

Now, Brown said, the F1 franchise can reach out to an audience of different genders and age groups globally. In some places, he acknowledged, "esports will be larger than Formula 1."

Adapting to cord cutting

Recent years have seen a rise in the phenomenon of "cord cutting" — with more consumers choosing to turn away from viewing media on traditional platforms such as cable television. Instead, many are watching videos on services such as Amazon Prime and Netflix.

McLaren itself is no stranger to streaming services, as Brown pointed out, having featured in an Amazon Prime documentary called "Grand Prix Driver," which he said offered viewers a "behind-the-scenes" look at what goes on in the team.

"That's something that your traditional race broadcast doesn't bring to you," he said. "I think with these different forms of media, we can also provide different levels and different types of content."

Disclosure: CNBC has a partnership with McLaren .